Scottish Poetry Selection
- Chrysanthemums

Walter Wingate had a great love of the flowers and the countryside. But he also had a social consience and this poem combines the two. It was written in Queens Park, Glasgow - a place I know well.


Among the gay chrysanthemums
    Assembled in their crystal hall
Where each was dressed in all its best
And each outrivaled all the rest
Like pretty ladies at a ball-
    Among the gay chrysanthemums
I wonder what suggested slums?

Among the shrined chrysanthemums
    My heart would have rejoiced to see
Their pure and gracious loveliness
Some beauty-hungered spirit bless:
The temple unto all was free:-
    But no! The shrined chrysanthemums
Allured no pilgrim from the slums

And could the sweet chrysanthemums
    A sisterhood of mercy share,
Allotted each its squalid room
Each missioned with its stainless bloom
To preach a purer gospel there-
    For all the sweet chrysanthemums
The slums would still remain the slums

And shame it is chrysanthemums
    To mar you with my ugly rhyme:
But ah! A shivering child I met
That told of regions winter set
Where other flowers have found their time;
    To us the gay chrysanthemums
And frost and famine to the slums.

Return to the Index of Walter Wingate Poems or the General Index of Scottish Poetry

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