To the Dandelion

    Dear common flower, that grow’st beside the way, 
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold, 
          First pledge of blithesome May, 
Which children pluck, and full of pride, uphold,
   High-hearted buccaneers, o’erjoyed that they
      Eldorado in the grass have found, 
        Which not the rich earth’s ample round 
    May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
   Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be. 

    Gold such as thine ne’er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas, 
          Nor wrinkled the lean brow 
Of age, to rob the lover’s heart of ease; 
   ’Tis the Spring’s largess, which she scatters now 
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand, 
       Though most heart never understand 
    To take it at God’s value, but pass by 
    The offered wealth with unrewarded eye. 

    Thou art my tropics and mine Italy; 
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime; 
          The eyes thou givest me 
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
    Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment 
       In the white lily’s breezy tent,
    His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first 
    From the dark green thy yellow circles burst. 

    Then think I of deep shadows on the grass, 
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze, 
          Where, as the breezes pass, 
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways, 
   Of leaves that slumber in a cloud mass, 
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue 
      That from the distance sparkle through 
    Some woodland gap, and of a sky above, 
    Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

    My childhood’s earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin’s song,
          Who, from the dark old tree 
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long, 
     And I, secure in childish piety, 
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
        With news from heaven, which he could bring 
    Fresh every day to my untainted ears 
    When birds and flowers and I were happy peers. 

    How like a prodigal doth nature seem, 
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art! 
          Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart, 
    Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam 
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show, 
       Did we but pay the love we owe, 
    And with a child’s undoubting wisdom look 
    On all these living pages of God’s book. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 3, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.