CROCUSES-Nottingham Meadows

The Last Dying Speech of the Crocuses

Ye tender-hearted gentlefolk of Nottingham's fair town
And ye who
 long have loved us from the poet to the clown,
Attend our sore complainings, while with one accord we weep,
From mossy beds uprising, where we sought our summer sleep.

How many a pleasant spring-tide, ere a blossom peeped of May,
Nor yet a stealthy violet its dwelling did betray,
And scarce the winter flood had left the lowlands to the sky,
We came in thronging multitudes to gladden every eye.

We came a simple people in our little hoods of blue,
And a blush of living purple o'er earth's green bosom threw,
All faces smiled a welcome, as they gaily passed along,
And 'Have you seen the Crocuses?' was everybody's song.

Forth came the happy children to their revel in the flowers,
Forth came the weary working-man to that sweet show of ours,
Forth came the lace-girl cheerily the common joy to share,
And e'en the stately gentle-folk were pleased to see us there.

But oh! 'twas dreary midnight when we heard the winds bewail,
Deep strange Eolian whisperings came sighing on the gale.
Anon with hammer, wheel and blast the welkin rang around,
And each a deadly shiver felt beneath us on the ground.

Awakened in the solemn gloom of that untimely hour,
The little spectre darted up of each ill-omened flower,
While o'er its head a coming spring in brick-red trance is seen,
As factory, mill and wharf besoiled our home of meadow green.

One gentle shriek the silence broke, one quiver of despair,
'Our fatherland, farewell!' we cried, 'Farewell, ye meadows fair!'
'Dear children born of yester-spring, 
dear children, yet to be
Ye shall but read of Crocuses, no more alas! to see.'

'Spirit of giant trade! we go; on wings of night we fly,
Some far sequestered spot to seek where loom may never ply,
Come line and rule—come board and brickall dismal things in one
Dread Spirit of Inclosure come—thy wretched will be done!'

Anne Gilbert (1782 - 1860)