The Poetry Corner

To Louise

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Oh, the poets may sing of their Lady Irenes, And may rave in their rhymes about wonderful queens; But I throw my poetical wings to the breeze, And soar in a song to my Lady Louise. A sweet little maid, who is dearer, I ween, Than any fair duchess, or even a queen. When speaking of her I can't plod in my prose, For she 's the wee lassie who gave me a rose. Since poets, from seeing a lady's lip curled, Have written fair verse that has sweetened the world; Why, then, should not I give the space of an hour To making a song in return for a flower? I have found in my life--it has not been so long-- There are too few of flowers--too little of song. So out of that blossom, this lay of mine grows, For the dear little lady who gave me the rose. I thank God for innocence, dearer than Art, That lights on a by-way which leads to the heart, And led by an impulse no less than divine, Walks into the temple and sits at the shrine. I would rather pluck daisies that grow in the wild, Or take one simple rose from the hand of a child, Then to breathe the rich fragrance of flowers that bide In the gardens of luxury, passion, and pride. I know not, my wee one, how came you to know Which way to my heart was the right way to go; Unless in your purity, soul-clean and clear, God whispers his messages into your ear. You have now had my song, let me end with a prayer That your life may be always sweet, happy, and fair; That your joys may be many, and absent your woes, O dear little lady who gave me the rose!