Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> Simms the Gardener: Reconstructing the Gardens at Woodlands >> Page 22

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 22

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription In lovely cirque below, the flowers,
Sweet trophies from each sun-bless'd land,
Smile ever through the happy hours,
And walk with Beauty hand in hand.
The ailanthus spreads beneath mine eaves
Its palmy shoots of slenderest stem,
While 'neath its shade the jasmine weaves
Its vines with many a golden gem.

And drooping twice beneath its fruits
The modest fig, imploring place,
Sends out its fond contending shoots,
That greenly shadow all the space.

The heart, though doom'd to doubt that pain
May yet some respite snatch from care,
Should in repose not wholly vain
Forget the weight that still must wear--

Must wear and vex, and would destroy,
But that such gleams and glimpses come,
To wing anew the hope to joy,
In opening vistas rich in bloom.

Let mine heart not lose, with every loss,
The sense of sweet that life still knows;
Nor, though I falter 'neath my cross,
Forget that earth still bears its rose!

Having been destroyed, the sixty roses Simms had ordered from Pomaria
from 1860 to 1862 had now become roses spiritual and emblematic. They and
their sisters, as the poem relates, now "walk with Beauty" in an imperishable
garden where truths can last. That Simms would choose a favorite landscape
flower as symbol, in one of his last poetic utterances, proves the depth of his
commitment to the "garden," both the emblematic one whose bounds are not
strictly terrestrial, and the fully resplendent physical one which could still provide for him, even during intense sorrow and pain, transcendent moments of joy.
As Trent noted in his biography of 1898, Simms "had always been a lover
of flowers" (p. 317). In his last public appearance, as speaker before the Floral
Fair held by the Charleston County Agricultural and Horticultural Association on
3 May 1870, he gave a very powerful and important speech entitled The Sense of
the Beautiful.12 Here he charged parents with the duty to "Familiarize your
young with flowers, trees, shrubs, the beauties of the landscape" so that their sense of the beautiful can. be "awakened." Beauty "thus represents the highest law--the
of the beautiful can. be "awakened." Beauty "thus represents the highest law--the
perfection of moral...the visible representative of a principle and a virtue...which