Flower Poetry Fridays: Minerva’s Prize

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

MINERVA’S PRIZE.

MINERVA, a visit to Flora once made,
When the flowers, in a body, their compliments
paid,
And, charmed with their manners, and elegant
dyes,
Desired she might give to the fairest a prize ;
Appointing a day, when herself should preside,
And on their pretensions to beauty decide.

Confident  rose.
Confident rose.

Then the Rose bridled up, with a confident
air,
As if she would say,— Who with me shall com-
pare ?

While the Lily, but newly come out as a bride,
Whisper’d low to her sisters, and laugh’d at
such pride.
The Hyacinth studied her wardrobe with care,
Still puzzled to settle what colors to wear ;
The Poppy, ashamed of her dull, sleepy eyes,
Wore a new scarlet dress, with a view to the
prize.

Then flock’d the Anemones, fair to behold,
With the rich Polyanthus, in velvet, and gold ;
And the Tulip came flaunting, and waving her
fan,
And turned up her nose at the Daffodil clan.

Tulips Rise Above Daffodils
Tulips Rise Above Daffodils

The buds who were thought by their mothers
too young,
Round their sister’s toilettes discontentedly
hung ;
There was teazing, and dressing, and prinking
enough—
The pretty Quill-Daisies each bought a new
ruff;
The stately Carnations stood frizzing their hair,
And the tall London-pride, choosing feathers
to wear.
The Pink at her mirror was ready to drop,
And the Snow-ball bought rouge at a milliner’s
shop;
While in the same square, at a shoe-store so
neat,
The trim Lady-Slippers were pinching their
feet.
Thrifty Lilac acknowledg’d her robe was not
new,
But with turning and furbishing thought it
might do ;
While the queer Ragged-Lady, who pass’d for
a poet,
Sat darning her hose, and wish’d no one to
know it ;
And Fox-Glove, who sometimes had furnished
a sonnet,
Was tying new bows on a fanciful bonnet.
The green-house exotics, in chariots, went by,
For their delicate nerves feared each frown of
the sky,
While from her low cottage of moss on the
plain,
The Violet look’d up and admired the bright
train,
Not thinking to join in a circle so gay,
Or dreaming that she had a charm to display ;
Minerva's Prize Goes To The Violet
Minerva’s Prize Goes To The Violet

Beside a sick bud she preferred to attend,
Which down to the dust its pale forehead would
bend.
But judge how this splendid conventicle stared,
When Minerva the prize to the Violet declar’d !
Remarking, though beauties and graces were
there,
That " Modesty ever to her was most fair. "
And distinctly pronounced, in the hearing of all,
That "the humble must rise, and the arrogant
fall."

The humble violet won the prize because of her modesty. She didn’t think she was fit to join in the parade of dazzling blooms and instead she performed the selfless act of caring for a dying friend.

There were a dozen other flowers who could have won the prize if it were only based on beauty. You know, the kind you see in a mirror.

Minerva equated arrogance with the flowers spending all their time and money to display their colorful robes. Instead, she chose modesty for her model of true beauty.

Modesty trumps beauty. Well, at least in poetry it can.

With air-brushed super models in every ad and Hollywood polluting our collective image of desirable qualities in people, we’re supposed to think that we too could look like that if we only tried their product. Yeah, right.

When you ask your mirror “Who is the fairest in the land?” are you seeking only outward beauty? Don’t worry, be happy! Beauty is only skin deep, as they say. The people who matter in your life will see you for the beauty you have that doesn’t reflect in a mirror.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “King Frost and the Garden Beauties”.

Find Hepatica Blooms Hiding in the Woods

Every Spring I venture into the woods looking for one of my favorite flowers, Hepatica. You have to be a good flower hunter to find it.

Single Hepatica Leaf and Flower
Single Hepatica Leaf and Flower

It’s a small plant so you need to be fairly close to it to see one. The leaves that have overwintered are typically hidden, at least in part, by the brown tree leaves on the ground.

If you’re close to a plant the bits of green can catch your eye among the browns and greys of the forest floor.

Hepatica Flowers Rising Through Oak Leaves on the Forest Floor
Hepatica Flowers Rising Through Oak Leaves on the Forest Floor

Of course, the easiest way to see hepatica is to remember where you’ve seen it last. Being a perennial the greenery can be seen in many seasons but the flowers are only out in April.

The flowers may attract your attention being a light purple and ranging from deep purple-blue to light bluish-white. It’s amazing how well colors can blend into the shadows, so don’t rely only on color to find hepatica.

It is easier to spot the flowers on a sunny day as the blooms will be open in the sunshine. Clouds and nighttime will see the petals closing up toward the center of the flower.

Take time looking around the base of large trees for hepatica. I’ve often found them in these protected spots. If you find one plant, look some more. There will be others so watch your step!

Hepatica Flowering  at the Base of a Tree
Hepatica Flowering at the Base of a Tree

Their size is small, as that’s probably the biggest factor in locating hepatica. Flowers are about an inch across when full-sized and fully opened. Maybe they’re pea-sized when closing up.

Having said that, realize that once you have your “search pattern” down – like after you find that first one your brain knows what to look for – you’ll be able to see more hepatica blooming in the woods.

The good news is we still have a couple of weeks in Central Pennsylvania to go and seek Hepatica before their blooming period is done.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Desert Flower

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

THE DESERT FLOWER.

Desert White Cactus
Desert White Cactus

A WEARY course the traveller held,
As on with footstep lone,
By scientific zeal impelled,
He tracked the torrid zone.

Sad thought was with his native glades,
His father’s pleasant halls,
Where darkly peer, through woven shades,
The abbey’s ivied walls.

Yet to the far horizon’s bound,
Far as the glance could sweep,
The sandy desert spread around,
Like one vast, waveless deep.

What saw he ‘mid that dreary scene,
To wake his rapture wild ?
A flower ! A flower ! with glorious mien,
Like some bright rainbow’s child.

Kneeling, he clasped it to his breast,
He praised its wondrous birth,
Fair, fragile, beautiful, and blest,
The poetry of earth.

No secret fountain through its veins
Sustaining vigor threw,
No dew refreshed those arid plains,
Yet there the stranger grew.

It seemed as if some tender friend,
Beloved in childhood’s day,
A murmur through those leaves did send,
A smile to cheer his way ;

And fervently a prayer for those,
In his own distant bower,
Like incense from his heart uprose,
Beside that Desert Flower.

For thus do Nature’s hallowed charms
Man’s softened soul inspire,
As to the infant in her arms,
The mother points its sire.

In the middle of the desert it probably feels like the sand can go on and on and that tan is about the only color around.

A flower amongst the waves of sand must look glorious — even if it were pure white.

Isn’t it curious that a flower could bloom in such an arid place? Even without dew to refresh its beauty? However it happened to be there, the flower brought a smile and some cheer to the weary traveler.

Flowers cheer me all the time! You don’t have to get lost in the desert to appreciate the beauty of flowers. Just look around you and you’ll see them.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “Minerva’s Prize”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Dahlia and Verbena

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

THE DAHLIA AND VERBENA.

Maroon and White Dahlias
Colorful Dahlias

A TALL and richly drest Dahlia boasted. She
lifted up her head haughtily, as though she felt
herself a queen. Her lips moved, and she was
heard thus to soliloquize :—
     " I alone, of all the flowers around, am truly
beautiful. Which of them can compare with
me, in elegance of dress, or dignity of deport-
ment?
     Yet I suffer for want of society. I cannot
associate with those around, who are destitute
of my accomplishments.
     Here is an insipid Verbena at my feet, al-
ways trying to be sociable. She is so ill-bred
as to smile, when I meet her eye, as if she
were an acknowledged acquaintance.
     It is in vain that I strive to convince her of
her vulgarity. I cannot even look down with
out seeing her. I wish she would move away,
and give place to some neighbor, more proper
for one of my rank.
     I doubt whether she even knows that my
name is Lady Liverpool. I will throw her
a withering frown, and see if it is not possible
to repel her advances."
     That night there came an early frost. The
splendid robes of the Dahlia were ruined by
its chilling touch. She hung her head in bit-
terness, and was ashamed to be seen.
     But the little pale-cheeked Verbena, whom
she had so long despised, looked meekly up,
and spoke kind and cheering words. It had
been sheltered from the frost by the drapery
of its proud neighbor.
     Forgetting the disdainful demeanor of the
Dahlia, it tenderly ministered to its sorrows,
and sent up its sweetest perfumes, to cheer
her, like a cloud of incense.
     And as I bent down, admiring its sympathy,
there seemed to come from its meek example,
a gentle voice, " Go thou and do likewise."

Somehow, the meek Verbena was really good at letting the disdainful words of the Dahlia roll off her back. For at the end she comforted her cruel neighbor.

Being able to give such sweet offerings to one that despised her, the Verbena teaches us a lesson on sympathy.

Genuine care for her fellow flower. Let’s hope this catches on!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Desert Flower”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Cactus Speciosissimus

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

THE CACTUS SPECIOSIS-
SIMUS.

Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cactus speciosissimus lateritius. By Edwards (Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 19, plate 1596.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WHO hung thy beauty on such rugged stalk,
Thou glorious flower ?
          Who poured the richest hues,
In varying radiance, o’er thine ample brow,
And, like a mesh, those tissued stamens laid
Upon thy crimson lip ?
          Thou glorious flower !
Methinks it were no sin to worship thee,
Such passport hast thou from thy Maker’s
hand,
To thrill the soul. Lone, on thy leafless stem,
Thou bidd’st the queenly rose, with all her
buds,
Do homage, and the greenhouse peerage bow
Their rainbow coronets.
          Hast thou no thought ?
No intellectual life ? thou who can’st wake
Man’s heart to such communings ? no sweet
word
With which to answer him ? ‘T would almost
seem
That so much beauty needs must have a soul,
And that such form as tints the gazer’s dream,
Held higher spirit than the common clod
On which we tread.
          Yet while we muse, a blight
Steals o’er thee, and thy shrinking bosom
shows
The mournful symptoms of a wan disease.—
I will not stay to see thy beauty fade.
——Still must I bear away within my heart
Thy lesson of our own mortality ;
The fearful withering of each blossomed bough
On which we lean, of every bud we fain
Would hide within our bosoms from the touch
Of the destroyer.
          So instruct us, Lord !
Thou Father of the sunbeam and the soul,
Even by the simple sermon of a flower,
To cling to Thee.

A common theme in Mrs. Sigourney’s writing is the mortality that we’re all strapped with and her desire to communicate with her Maker.

Contemplating flowers, in all their beauty, one can’t help but eventually contemplate one’s own mortality. As the seasons pass we see beautiful flowers arise from little buds, have their time in the sun, and disappointingly fade away too soon.

A plant as sturdy-looking as a cactus won’t last forever either as it’s a mere Mortal Being.

Once a flower has bloomed to help produce the next generation, its time is limited.

We all have our time in the sun, as in our youth, and we all have our time of demise.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Dahlia and Verbena”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Snow-Drop

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

THE SNOW DROP.
A Dedication for an Annual with that title.

A Snow Drop in Bloom
A Snow Drop in Bloom

WHEN infant Spring, with a glance of fear,
Doth tread in the steps of the Winter drear,
And beckon the streams on the frosted plains
To loosen the links of their icy chains,
Ere yet the Violet hath dar’d to show
Its timid head through the wasting snow,
While Tulip and Dahlia on couches deep,
In their bulbous night-caps, are fast asleep,
Like beauties fatigued at the midnight rout,
Who shut the sun, with their curtains, out,—
At the earliest call of the blue-bird sweet,
I venture forth through the mist and sleet,
And haste to bring, with my simple cheer,
The first glad wish of the new born year.
But now from Autumn, a boon I bear,
Of varied tint, and a perfume rare,—
Taste hath wander’d through grove and bower,
The bird to win, and to cull the flower,
And to gather them close in a charmed ring,
And to bind them fast with a silken string ;
Friendship doth offer the gift to thee,—
Pure and warm may its guerdon be.

By the way guerdon means reward. I agree that friendship IS a great reward. When is the last time you gave a handful of flowers to a friend, offering nothing more than the reward of friendship?

This Snow Drop Poem is very timely as we’re in an infant spring right now in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring officially started one week ago today.

From this poem we learn the tulips, dahlias, and violets are not early Spring bloomers, but the Snow Drop sure is.

Snow drops have the most appropriate name as they can often be seen coming up through the snow, even in late winter. The blooms hang in such a way that they appear to be drooping their heads toward the ground or dropping toward the snow.

Being the first flower to show itself in Spring gives the Snow Drop special awakening powers to all who see it bloom.

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Cactus Speciosissimus”.

First Flower of the Spring Season

The day before Spring announced itself on our calendars I spied the first flower of the season. After the winter we just had — it was refreshing to see new life!

The 3-inch snowfall that came on the first day of Spring was melted by the next day, except for a few snow banks and places in the shade. The melting snow contributed to the mountain streams already flowing downhill. Low lying areas are full of this really cold water.

Driving on a back road I could slow down enough to see the skunk cabbage hoods sticking out of the mud a couple of inches.

Skunk Cabbage in a Mountain Stream
Skunk Cabbage in a Mountain Stream

Skunk cabbage seems to like water so much that it has no problem coming up right in the mountain stream. Just don’t look for it in dry areas. Without a large amount of water to draw upon, the huge leaves of skunk cabbage would have difficulty attaining their full size.

The hood that surrounds the flowers are variously mottled with yellow and maroon. Some hoods are maroon with yellow spots while others are mostly yellow with maroon spots.

Maroon-spotted Yellow Hoods of Skunk Cabbage
Maroon-spotted Yellow Hoods of Skunk Cabbage

For another few weeks the skunk cabbage will be growing in the marshy and wet areas. At first you’ll be able to see the hoods surrounding the actual flowers. On closer inspection the flowers can be observed inside the hood. Later on the leaves will be much more visible. Right now, the leaves are rolled up and starting to point out of the ground next to the flower.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Blossom and the Beautiful

Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.

THE BLOSSOM AND THE
BEAUTIFUL.

Youthful Blossoms of Rue Anemone
Youthful Blossoms of Rue Anemone

To a bright bud, with heart of flame,
The angel of the seasons came,
Took its close-shrouding hood away,
And rais’d its forehead to the day,—
And from its blushing depths updrew
A stream of incense, fresh as dew.

He kiss’d its cheek, and went his way,
And then a form, with temples grey,
Crept to its side, and taught it how
To shrink, to shrivel, and to bow,—
On the cold earth its lip to lay,
And mix with fair things pass’d away.

Thus, to a maid, in beauty’s spring,
Love’s angel came, on radiant wing,
Nerv’d the light foot to skim the plain,
And made the voice a music strain,—
And wreath’d his cestus round her breast,
Till every eye her power confest.

A ghastly shade, with lifted dart.
Strode to her couch, and chill’d her heart.
Pale grew the brow, which roses fir’d ;
And the soft breath in sighs expir’d :
Yet that which bound her to the sky
Escap’d his shaft. It could not die.

This poem seems to be about the seasonal nature of life and about death that eventually overcomes us all.

Or is it a more subtle message about losing virginity? I don’t know about you, but it kinda sounds like Mrs. Sigourney is talking about sex or perhaps how losing one’s “youth” is like the seasons advancing. Using words like bosom, ‘lifted dart’, and shaft could have something to do with flowers, but we’re not sure what she was thinking.

Perhaps it’s a message about how our lives can be viewed as seasons. We all have our time in the sun as youthful, exuberant ones. Energy of youth finds love, life is lived, and finally the angel of the seasons brings us to our Autumn and Wintertime.

I’d love to hear how you view or interpret this poem. Leave a comment below!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Snow Drop”.