Monday, February 23, 2009

The Lily of a Day

I remember reading this poem for the first time when I was in primary school. It was a part of the 2nd language English syllabus and was the favorite poem of the entire class. Not because it is so lovely, but solely for the reason that it was short and very easy to mug up for the exams.
Through the years, the more I read the poem, the more beautiful it sounds and means. Here it is.. by Ben Johnson (1572-1637)

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three-hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald and sere.
A lily of a day,
Is fairer far in May,
Although it droop and die that night,
It was the plant and flow'r of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures, life may perfect be.


  1. I studied it in my SSC class in 1959 , and till date, it is my most favorite poem.

    બાબુ મોશાય!

    જિન્દગી બડી

    હોની ચાહિયે

    લંબી નહીં.

  2. Memorable one even today. Had read in IX std. That gives us way forward.

  3. I studied it in 1971 and remember to this day only these two lines:

    A lily of a day
    Is fairer far in May

    By changing the word order Ben Johnson has created wonderful rhyme that is so enduring. Honestly I was not at all comfortable with English those days!

  4. I learned this poem from my grandmother and I still it is one of my favourite poems.