Shelter Catalog



ON my small farm, where rocks and weeds contend
Which shall possess the more its barrenness,
In spring, among the very earliest flowers,
Almost untimely, is the saxifrage—
The season’s dear, though humble, harbinger,
Rearing on fragile stem its clustered head,
Between the seams of rocks, by east winds blown,
And with a feeble root and few low leaves,
As if it needed neither earth nor sun,
But grew by that exhilarating sense
Of winter past and far-off breath of spring
That likewise man, by his own tokens, knows.

But when all summer’s lush and favored flowers,
Fed on the highest suns and richest dews,
Rooted in mellow soil and sheltered nooks,
Are blighted with the year’s autumnal change,
Then once again in thin, unfertile lands,
Along the beach-side and the meadow mange,
The rose-gerardia swings its little bell
And will not let the season go too soon.
Its very leaves do deprecate the frost,
Already brown, so not to tempt his touch,
And as the thought of spring, and not spring’s self,
Drew from its crevices along the ledge,
The sweet, presaging herald, saxifrage,—
So, now, the latest flower at autumn’s end
Grows by the memory of summer days,
Dreams of the rose, and blushes at its dreams.
John Albee [1833-1915]