My hour is come. Now it is time to go
Into the fields to gather exotic flowers
Just like Persephone before the Devil
Did snatch her down into the realm of sorrow.
Speak, owl upon my arm, where shall I linger,
That I may pluck the fairest from the earth?

No lady is as giving as the earth
Though it is there I, like all men, must go
Forever in her dark embrace to linger
And sire in her a meager plot of flowers.
Hers is a love that's ever tinged with sorrow;
That she must be a mother and a devil.

My darling, you are Nature's fairest devil!
Reveal to me the bounty of the earth!
Yours is the spell to banish all my sorrow.
Where you will lead, there I will surely go.
Thou, sweetest of intoxicating flowers,
Where you will stay, there I in thrall must linger.

And yet, sometimes I wonder, should I linger
Within the palace of my sleeping devil
Whose heady scent entices me to flower
Each vale and meadow of her sacred earth.
Alas, my sweet, I feel that I must go
Into the wilderness of Hope and Sorrow.

The path of destiny seems mired in sorrow.
Like phantoms in the mist, the memories linger,
Of how it was before I had to go
To battle with my dissipating devils
Which bound me to the cycles of the earth.
Once I was like those blooming, dying flowers.

And now I pause to look among the flowers;
They seem to me to bloom in languid sorrow.
O Woe! Their days are numbered on this earth.
It is with heavy heart that I now linger
And watch the yearly harvest of the Devil.
Down! Down into the charnel night they go.

No more! I cannot bear it! I must go,
Pick one amongst this mournful field of flowers,
And take it to my angel and my devil
Who passes by the hours in silent sorrow.
Now that I've seen, I shall not choose to linger
Apart from all that pleases on this earth.

Down from the clouds, I light upon the earth,
Into the palace of my Venus go
To stay her sobbing with a kiss that lingers
And deck her hair with this, the fairest flower,
Then tell her of my wisdom and my sorrows,
My half-won war I waged against the Devil.

"I've had it with this talk of battling devils."
She says. "Why can't you love this life, this earth?
For love of what, you left me to my sorrow?
I've half a mind to shout: 'Out, beggar, go!
Take your fine words and that ill-gotten flower.'
But oh, how dear I need my love to linger."

Be kind to me, my love, and I will linger
Defying honor, nation, God, and devil,
So let us strew our marriage bed with flowers;
I'm yours while I may walk upon this earth.
I am too weary, have no heart to go
Again to face the universe's sorrow.

Now let me kiss away your tears of sorrow.
I love you, and forever I will linger
Where you will stay, and follow where you go.
You are the best of angel and of devil.
I consecrate my body to your earth
To sire in you lush meadows ripe with flowers.

The world is made of blooming, dying flowers.
We love, we laugh, we struggle, and we sorrow.
So it is with all upon this earth.
Tell me, what's immortal? What does linger?
Is it some bearded God or goat-horned devil?
Excuse me, gentle reader, I must go,

Go, seek the balm to heal my quiet sorrow,
Dispel at last the lingering, leering devil:
Just one, one flower from this barren earth.

George Chadderdon © 1995