This is mint and here are three pinks
I have brought you, Mother.
They are wet with rain
And shining with it.
The pinks smell like more of them
In a blue vase:
The mint smells like summer
In many gardens.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
“Gift” appears in Hilda Conkling’s first collection, Poems by a Little Girl (Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1920). According to the table of contents, “Gift” was composed by Conkling when she was between the ages of seven and nine years old. In her preface to the collection, Amy Lowell writes, after listing “Gift” among the book’s most successful poems, that “[s]he probably hardly thought at all, so natural was it, to say that three pinks ‘smell like more of them in a blue vase,’ but the expression fills the air with so strong a scent that no superlative could increase it. ‘Gift’ is a lovely poem, it has feeling, expression, originality, cadence. If a child can write such a poem at eight years old, what does it mean? That depends, I think, on how long the instructors of youth can be persuaded to keep ‘hands off.’ A period of imitation is, I fear, inevitable, but if consciousness is not induced by direct criticism, if instruction in the art of writing is abjured, the imitative period will probably be got [sic] through without undue loss. I think there is too much native sense of beauty and proportion here to be entirely killed even by the drying and freezing process which goes by the name of education.”