Tired Gardener

Clark Ashton Smith

Cherish them not,
the ostentatious roses grown with care
extravagant, the Tyrian fuchsias drooping
with heaviness of over-nurtured bloom,
and orchid-miming irises that speak too loud
of opulence and sumptuous circumstance:
cherish them not, O gardener,
knowing how soon
the desert breathes in every Babylon
and withers all things that man has tilled and trained
too often not for mere beauty's sake
but only to prove the old Mammonian power;
knowing how soon
the lovely weeds half-disinherited
return, and banished grasses break
the squares and circles of the flowery plots
and beard the creviced fountains.

Turn rather
to sand-verbenas yellow as the sun
that flourish on the crumbling dunes,
to yarrow, and the blackbird-ridden reeds
and willows following the dark sunken channel
of marsh-lost waters toward the sea.
Turn rather
where springs the pale and migniard mountain-phlox
in basins granite-rimmed,
and the dwarf alpine manzanitas
make arabesques upon the sheeted stone;
turn rather
to lichens charting upon trunk and boulder
the track of centuries unclocked:
these shall be planted, these be tended
never by swink and sweat of any laborer;
and these
shall flower the unmanned eternity of earth
when the last empire dies, a fat mandragora
uprooted by its rebel gardeners.

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