Thomas Hardy

The Last Chrysanthemum

    Why should this flower delay so long 
        To show its tremulous plumes? 
Now is the time of plaintive robin-song, 
        When flowers are in their tombs. 

    Through the slow summer, when the sun 
        Called to each frond and whorl 
That all he could for flowers was being done, 
        Why did it not uncurl? 

    It must have felt that fervid call 
        Although it took no heed, 
Waking but now, when leaves like corpses fall, 
        And saps all retrocede. 

    Too late its beauty, lonely thing, 
        The season's shine is spent, 
Nothing remains for it but shivering 
        In tempests turbulent. 

    Had it a reason for delay, 
       Dreaming in witlessness 
That for a bloom so delicately gay 
      Winter would stay its stress? 

    - I talk as if the thing were born 
        With sense to work its mind; 
Yet it is but one mask of many worn 
        By the Great Face behind.