Madge Morris Wagner Poems >>
A Stained Lily

Some lilies grew by a brook-side,
 Tall and white, and cold,
And lifted up to the sunshine
 Their great red hearts of gold.

And near to their bed grew mosses,
 rank vines, and flowers small,
And loathsome weeds, and thistles,
 And the sunlight warmed them all.

Anon, the proud white lilies
 Were gathered one by one,
Each to crown a festal
 Rarest under the sun.

One lily stooped to the brooklet,
 Her face she knew was fair,
And the face of flowing water
 Mirrored her image there.

A hand upraised in envy,
 Or carelessness, or jest,
Flung from the turbid water,
 Mud, on the lily's breast.

And all the proud, white lilies
 Turned their faces away,
And nobody plucked that lily,
 And day, and night, and day

She wept for her ruined beauty:
 And the dew-drops, and the rain,
Touched with her tears, in pity
 Fell on the muddy stain.

Still stood she in her grieving
 Day, and night, and day;
Nor tears, nor dew, nor rain-drops,
 Could fade the stain away.

Pining in desolation,
 Shunned by each of her kind,
Sought she a bitter solace
 In creatures of a coarser mind.

But the breath of the nettle stung her,
 And the thistle's rude embrace
Burned her sensitive nature,
 And scarred the fair, stained face.

Lower drooped the lily,
 And died at the feet of the weeds;
And only the tender mosses
 Ministered to her needs.

And still the tall while lilies
 Stand as cold, and proud,
And still the weeds and thistles
 Against the lilies crowd.

Alike the same warm sunbeams,
 On weed and flower fall,
Alike by the same soil nourished,
 And the great God made them all.