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Wild Flowers and Little Girls


Thinking of the numerous company of little girls of infinite charm I
have met, and of their evanishment, I have a vision of myself on
horseback on the illimitable green level pampas, under the wide sunlit
cerulean sky in late September or early October, when the wild flowers
are at their best before the wilting heats of summer.

Seeing the flowers so abundant, I dismount and lead my horse by the
bridle and walk knee-deep in the lush grass, stooping down at every
step to look closely at the shy, exquisite blooms in their dewy morning
freshness and divine colours. Flowers of an inexpressible unearthly
loveliness and unforgettable; for how forget them when their images
shine in memory in all their pristine morning brilliance!

That is how I remember and love to remember them, in that first fresh
aspect, not as they appear later, the petals wilted or dropped, sun-
browned, ripening their seed and fruit.

And so with the little human flowers. I love to remember and think of
them as flowers, not as ripening or ripened into young ladies, wives,
matrons, mothers of sons and daughters.

As little girls, as human flowers, they shone and passed out of sight.
Only of one do I think differently, the most exquisite among them, the
most beautiful in body and soul, or so I imagine, perhaps because of
the manner of her vanishing even while my eyes were still on her. That
was Dolly, aged eight, and because her little life finished then she is
the one that never faded, never changed.

Here are some lines I wrote when grief at her going was still fresh.
They were in a monthly magazine at that time years ago, and were set to
music, although not very successfully, and I wish it could be done
again.

Should'st thou come to me again
From the sunshine and the rain,
With thy laughter sweet and free,
O how should I welcome thee!

Like a streamlet dark and cold
Kindled into fiery gold
By a sunbeam swift that cleaves
Downward through the curtained leaves;

So this darkened life of mine
Lit with sudden joy would shine,
And to greet thee I should start
With a great cry in my heart.

Back to drop again, the cry
On my trembling lips would die:
Thou would'st pass to be again
With the sunshine and the rain.

W. H. Hudson