The fourth of eight poems by Finch which appear in the 1717 anonymous Poems on Several Occasions, or as it has come to be known since Norman Ault's 1935 reprint Pope's Own Miscellany. For full details and the list of poems by Ann see "Now blow, ye Southern winds . . ."
See Annotated Chronology No. 237 (Christmas 1716 into January 1717). The poem is lovely, filled with a full yet chaste beauty appropriate to its subject, Selena Finch Shirley, Countess of Ferrers; she was a daughter of George (and Jane?) Finch whom Cameron found living at Wye College in the early 1700's; she married Robert 1st Earl Ferrers in 1699, had ten children before he died in 1717, herself died in 1762; in the poem Finch says looking upon the flower in its ripe prime reminds her of the time when she "That beauteous maid wou'd view/The green house where I liv'd retired;" that is, between 1700 and 1703 when Finch lived at Wye Shirley Finch would come to visit her in a green house or garden near Wye; now destiny has led her young friend to the country and Finch placed in town where Finch can no longer feel rejuvenated by her friend's presence as once she was. Both women are now much older and this flower is a precious living symbol of their earlier relationship; Finch says the time is winter, the flower sent for Christmas; the time is probably the season 1716-1717.
On a double Stock July-flower, full blown in January, presented to me by the Countess of FERRERS. By the right honourable the Lady WINCHELSEA, pp. 126-
How is it in this chilling time,
When frost and snows the season claim,
This flow'ring plant is in its prime,
Which of July assumes the name?
But since we poets speech bestow,
And form what dialogues we please,
With animals or plants that grow,
And make them answer us with ease.
Tell me (said I) prolifick stock,
Which do'st these fragrant treasures bring,
What is it can such stores unlock,
At Christmas as outvie the spring?
Thus ask'd, the flower of tinctur'd bloome,
Soon blush't into a deeper dye,
Cast stronger odours round the room,
And sweetly breath'd out this reply.
Tis true, all plants of my nice sort
Have not such license to appear,
But wait till Phoebus keeps his court,
In the hot circle of the year.
Whilst I a brighter influence own,
Than is imparted from the skies;
Nor take my blossoms thus full blown,
From summer, but Selena's eyes.
Her cheering smile, her modest air,
Did me to this perfection charm;
For nothing droops when near the fair,
But all is lively, all is warm.
That beauteous maid wou'd often view
The green house where I liv'd retired,* *Wye
Who did such early graces shew,
That I to suit them was inspired.
Sometimes a sprig from me, I thought,
Might happily adorn her hair,
Or pardon me if 'twas a fault,
Might rest upon her bosom bare.
My soft perfumes for her design'd,
I ev'n from Zephyrus withdrew;
Unless when that obliging wind
Wou'd shed them round her as he flew.
Delighted when by me she stood,
I wish'd for some transforming art.
For had I then been flesh and blood,
I should have told her all my heart.
Yet I to Flora softly pray'd,
To hasten my disclosing day;
Who doating on the fairer maid,
For her does now my buds display.
But from a strange reverse of fate,
She to the countrey, I the town, *Ann in town
Have sadly been remov'd of late,
And neither to advantage shown.
Then let none blame you, if my flower
Beneath your roof is faded seen,
But know that such enlivening power
Is only granted to fifteen.
I for Selena shall repine,
And when some noble youths you see,
Bow their dejected heads like mine,
Think in our passions we agree.
What farther answer cou'd be made,
Or father question could I try?
Then let her come, and cheer our shade,
Or men and plants in town must die.
Comment: Lovely complimentary; again over ripe, full feel, sense of sadness, she as Lady Winchilsea now in town where all fades and withers; Lady Ferrers imagined in deep place of fruitfulness she partakes of. I don't understand "Is only granted to fifteen". She was a daughter of George Finch who was stayed at Wye between 1700 and 1703. She sends Anne a flower in Christmas 1716 winter, January 1717