Friday, June 27, 2008

Black Eyed Susan

This pretty summer flower got it's name from the poem
written by John Gay (1685-1782)
William's Farewell to Black-Eyed Susan
All in the dawn the fleet was moor'd,
The streamers waving to the wind,
When Black-eyed Susan came on board,
Oh where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William, if my sweet William
Sails among your crew?
Oh William, who high upon the yard,
Rocked with the billows to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
He sigh'd and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly thro' his glowing hands
And as quick as lightning, as quick as lightning,
On the deck he stands.
So sweet the lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
If, chance, his mate's shrill voice he hear,
And drops at once into her nest:
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William, might envy William's
Lip those kisses sweet.
'Oh Susan, Susan, lovely dear!
My vows shall ever true remain,
Let me kiss off that falling tear,
We only part to meet again:
Change as ye list, ye winds, my heart shall be
The faithful compass, the faithful compass
That still points to thee.'
Oh, believe not what the landsmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind,
They'll tell thee sailors when away,
In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present, for thou art present
Wheresoe'er I go.
If to fair India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright:
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin as ivory so white:
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul, wakes in my soul
Some charm of lovely Sue.
'Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn:
Though cannon roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his dear return:
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears, lest precious tears
Should drop from Susan's eye.
The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
Her sails their swelling bosom spread:
No longer can she stay on board -
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head:
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land,
'Adieu,' she cries, 'Adieu,' she cries
And waved her lily hand.


  1. My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE flower! So cheerful and so "optimistic." I did not know how it got it's name...thanks for that. I have a vase full of them on my kitchen counter right now...they change the entire kitchen with their beauty!

  2. Jill ~ I love them, too, and they have spread over a lot of my flower garden. They are the only flower that the Japanese Beetles leave alone!

  3. The Black-eyed Susan is my earliest flower memory. I must have been only three years old, but I vividly remember our neighbor pointing them out to me and telling me their name.

    Thanks for sharing the poem and name origin!

    Such a simple and unassuming flower!

  4. Betsy,
    I am printing this out for my little sis who shares her name with this fine flower. Thanks for such a lovely post!

  5. I love these flowers. They are so American country! BTW, you and Willow are sisters?!!

  6. My wife loves black ehyed susan's

  7. Great poem and a beautiful flower.

  8. Modgirl ~ me, too! We had an empty field across from our house and they grew wild over there. I remember their name vividly!

  9. Marcia ~ yes, and I've met your Susan. Hope she likes the poem!

  10. Mmm ~ yes, they are very American Country! And yes, Willow and I are sisters! :)

  11. I am green with jealousy! Your garden is so pretty. My yard is dry, dusty and I have no flowers this year. I put tons of seeds out in my best bed but I only had 10 plants to come up. This is going to be a pitiful summer.

  12. Steviewren ~ I've had years like that! It's depressing! We've been fortunate here in Ohio this year with a couple of nice long rains showers each week...perfect for the garden and the flowers. I'm wondering if it will last or if we will have a hot dry spell later in the summer. I guess I better enjoy it now!

  13. Oh Betsy ...I love your Black Eyed Susans....sooo pretty...

    and I want to thank you for the Beatrix Potter tip...I'll pass the good word along...have a really nice weekend...

  14. Any poem with mariners in it, has my nod of approval. ((Sounds of clapping from Lavinia for today's post...)).

    There is a florist shop in my town called "Black Eyed Susan's"...perfect name, no?

  15. Lavinia ~ yes, that's such a cute name for a florist!

  16. Pretty flowers -- so sad for the Susan in the poem!

  17. Pat~ I know! Hopefully sweet William survived the war and came home to her!


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