“Flowers in an Oldham Alehouse”
You four flowers, did you grow
Where the winds of Devon blow?
Only Devon’s earth and air
Can have fashioned you so fair!
The poet said, and true it be,
“God alone can make a tree”;
And I’m sure it’s just as true
God alone one morn made you,
And from heaven when you came,
Devon folk gave you a name,
But no mortal e’er can guess
All that makes your loveliness.
Did you come to this drab room
From the fields near Ilfracombe,
Or from some dew shining down
Not a mile from Teignmouth town?
All that’s Devon in you lies,
Lovely scenes and sunny skies,
Tors and glens and headlands free
Striding out into the sea;
Lynton’s rocks and Tavy’s stream,
Cider barns and pots of cream,
Cobbled streets and quaint old inns,
Fisher folk with sea-tanned skins.
Ploughmen from the upland farms,
Freckled maids with sun-browned arms,
All that is or o’er will be,
From the moorlands to the sea.
Oh, the happy days you had,
When the sunny fields were glad,
And the white winged butterflies
Came to look in your sweet eyes,
And the bees oft kissed your lips
For the joy of honey sips,
And the thrush from blossomed thorn
Woke you in the early morn,
And the lark high in the blue
Often sang all day to you,
And you heard the orchard breeze
Shaking laughter from the trees.
Now you’re here in Oldham town,
Houses black and dirty brown,
And you hear the roaring street,
Crash of cars and tramp of feet;
To this room you brought a whiff
Of the heather from the cliff,
Now your beauty’s spent and spoiled,
Every leaf and petal soiled,
And you hear from unclean lips
Slang and oath and racing tips.
Mauled by noisy drinking folk,
Poisoned by the “bacco” smoke,
Dying in an Oldham inn
’Mid the rabble and the din.
Better you had lived and died
On a Devon countryside,
For to-morrow you’ll be thrown
On a tip with rag and bone.