James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 3


By Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)

Christine Nilsson, born August 3, 1843

A ROSE of perfect red, embossed

With silver sheens of crystal frost,

Yet warm, nor life nor fragrance lost.

High passion throbbing in a sphere

That Art hath wrought of diamond clear,

—A great heart beating in a tear.

The listening soul is full of dreams

That shape the wondrous-varying themes

As cries of men or plash of streams.

Or noise of summer rain-drops round

That patter daintily a-ground

With hints of heaven in the sound.

Or noble wind-tones chanting free

Through morning-skies across the sea

Wild hymns to some strange majesty.

O, if one trope, clear-cut and keen,

May type the art of Song’s best queen,

White-hot of soul, white-chaste of mien,

On Music’s heart doth Nilsson dwell

As if a Swedish snowflake fell

Into a glowing flower-bell.