I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;
The perfect loveliness that God has made,–
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now – unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935)
from The Book of American Negro Poetry, 1922
[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]
Alice Dunbar-Nelson biography