Robert Francis


Your five white, frost-white
Petals and plum-purple stamens
Stellaria, for a sharp eye
For a fond eye–who
But the botanist ever sees?

Your foliage is weed familiar
But your flower is almost
Like a fairy princess invisible.
Better so. Those who escape
Man's notice escape man's scorn.

To the most proper garden
You come uninvited and unthanked
Before or after the planted
Plants, schooled for an early
Winter and late spring.

Easier larger flowers than you
I would not slander. Under
The sun all are equal.
And yet your very smallness
Like modesty is a jewel.

For I am not unprejudiced.
The unpromoted flower I prefer
Far from a florist window
As you, starwort, are far.
How cool, unqualified, your gaze.

Robert Francis, Robert Francis: Collected
Poems, 1936-1976, University of
Massachusetts Press, 1985.