Flower Poetry Fridays: Misletoe at The Tomb of Washington

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

TO THE MISLETOE AT THE
TOMB OF WASHINGTON.

DARK plant of Superstition’s shade,
    Why lift’st thou here the cheerless eye,
Where reeks no Druid’s purple blade,
To stain the Christian’s hallow’d shade,
    Or dim fair Freedom’s sky ?

Sacred to orgies blind and base,
    Where human blood was sternly spilt,
How dar’st thou seek this holy place ?
Rude parasite ! whose foul embrace
    Hast wreath’d the murderer’s hilt.

Where ancient Mona’s foliage wept,
    Or drear Stonehenge was wrapp’d in gloom,
Thy earthless root had fitter crept,
Thy mystic garland better slept,
    Than near a Christian tomb.

What though in Maro’s* fabled lore,
    To Troy’s bold chief thine aid was lent,
Who dauntless trod the infernal shore,
Where sad and frowning shades of yore
    Their date of anguish spent,

Yet we, to Pluto’s dreary coast,
    Passport from such as thee, disdain ;
We seek our hero ‘mid the host,
Where wails no grim and guilty ghost,
    On Heaven’s unclouded plain.

Lo ! watchful o’er his honor’d clay,
    A nation sheds the filial tear ;
And pilgrim’s kneel, and patriots pray,
And plants of glory drink the day,—
    Why dost thou linger here ?

In war the laurel wove his crest,
    The olive deck’d his sylvan dome,
The mournful cypress marks his rest,
Dark Misletoe ! the Druid’s guest,
    Hence ! seek some fitter home.

* The Viscum Album of Linnæus, or sacred misletoe of the
Druids, is the plant which was the passport of Æneas in his
descent to the Infernal Regions. See Æneid, Book 6th.

Today, we use ‘mistletoe’ instead of ‘misletoe’.

Hanging mistletoe at Christmastime to steal a kiss lends a happy meaning to this plant in modern times.

Here, Mrs. Sigourney thinks of mistletoe as a rude parasite with a foul embrace.

Perhaps her wariness here is regarding the parasitic nature of the plant. Surviving by stealing nutrients from a tall tree.

Maybe it’s the association of mistletoe with ancient druids as their ‘mystic garland’ that bothers her and therefore not fitting to be creeping around Washington’s Tomb.

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

Flower Poetry Fridays: Changes During Sickness

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

CHANGES DURING SICKNESS.

I BOW’D me down amid the race of life,
And let the fever-spirit have its will.
With wrench and screw the tissued nerves it
              tried,
And held from sleep the strained and burning
              eye,
So that the soft-voic’d watcher’s toil was vain.
Two weeks passed by, and then His healing
              love,
Who knows the weakness of this mortal frame
Which He hath fashioned, bade me take my
              place
Again among the living.
                           Strange and new
Seemed every wonted object. All around
Change had been busy. Boldly up had sprung,
Even to the eaves, the rich Convolvolus,
So long with patience water’d, even and morn.
Its clustering floral bells, profoundly blue,
Or crimson, fleck’d with white, thro’ the broad
              leaves,
Were redolent of beauty. So, methought
I’d close my books, and study with the flowers,
Where sang the bee ; and where, for aught I
              knew,
Might winged angels hover.
                           Closely hid
In a dense grape-vine, was a cunning nest,
Which oftimes I had visited, to strew
Crumbs for the brooding mother. On that
              morn
When fell disease stalk’d near me with his
              chain,
Intent to smite me, tho’ I knew it not,
I had withdrawn those curtaining leaves, and
              met
Her clear, bright eye.
                           Now, all were fled and gone !
Yes, those small eggs with gladness and with
              song
Had travell’d forth to swell the tide of love
That bathes Creation in its boundless sea.
Oh ! ever-watchful goodness, that doth work
Whether we sleep, or, ‘neath the weight of
              pain,
Bow down in dreamy reverie ; while time,
Unnoted, glideth onwards, nest and flower
Confess thee. Shall the thoughtless human
              heart,
So much indebted, e’er thy praise forget,
Whether beneath the sunshine or the cloud,
It takes its lesson from thy page divine ?

The lesson seems to be that while you’re sick or ‘not living’ time still moves on…”while time, Unnoted, glideth onwards, nest and flower Confess thee. ”

Little birds find how to use their wings and they fly the nest with a happy song.

Flowers bloom and share their glory. The Convolvolus that she speaks of represents the bindweeds and Morning Glory.

Don’t be sad and gloomy, for the world will pass you by as time ticks on…and on.

Smile! And be Thankful!

Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “To The Misletoe at The Tomb of Washington”.

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Garden and the Rain

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

THE GARDEN AND THE RAIN.

      ONE summer there had been a long drought,
made more painful by intense heat. Young
trees drooped ; many plants withered away ;
and the newly-mown grass crisped under the
feet as though it would never spring again.
    The master of a garden went forth at the sun-
set to water it. He was grieved to see how
his nurslings suffered. The slight branches
of the fruit-bearing trees were brittle, and broke
at the touch ; and the juiceless berries, shrink
ing away, tried to hide behind their yellow
leaves.
    The cisterns had become low, and the shal-
low brooklets were dry ; yet he gave water to
all his plants, as plentifully as he could. Still
they looked languidly at him, as if asking—
“Can you do nothing more to help us ?” Some
were perishing at the root, for the earth to
which they clung was like powder and dust.
    That night he awoke, and heard the blessed
rain falling ; at first, gently, and then with
power. He thanked the Merciful Giver, and
remembered the words, ” Can all the vanities
of the heathen give rain ? or can the heavens
without Him, give showers?”
    In the morning, when the rain had ceased,
he walked in his garden. He rejoiced, with
his plants and flowers, in the great goodness
of God. Their long season of sorrow had
made them dearer to him, as the parent loveth
the child who has been sick with a more ten-
der love.
    But now their time of suffering was past.
The grape-vine, having put on beauty for ashes,
wore at every point of its broad leaves a
pearl : and the honey-suckle, which was thought
to have been dying, was heard teaching its
young tendrils where to twine.
    The willow, whose long wands had turned
yellow, from disease, was weeping for joy.
Every infant blossom tried to tell of its new
happiness. Birds carolled from the nest, and
breathed into their silent praise a living soul.
    As he passed among the shrubbery, every
reaching bough shed on him a few chrystal
drops. They seemed to have saved for the
master a portion of what they best loved. The
statelier plants secreted a little moisture to
bestow upon the lowly. They had themselves
known want, and it seemed to have made them
more pitiful.
    He took in his hand the long leaves of a
lily, which, the day before, was ready to per-
ish, and it poured him one fragrant drop from
its cup of snow. And the rose-bud gave him,
from its heart, a chrystal gem that it had trea-
sured there, saying, ” Here ! here ! take this,
thou who didst minister unto me in my need,
and when I was thirsty, give me drink.”
    A forget-me-not, which he had removed a
few days before, from the dominion of a thorny
raspberry, had reserved a little rain, to bestow
upon the grass-cups at her side. As he bent
over her, she seemed to raise her blue eyes
and whisper, ” I was in prison, and ye came
unto me ; sick, and ye visited me.”
    Then the master of the garden said, ” Oh !
thankless human heart, that daily takest thy
water, and thy bread, yet yieldest scarcely one
smile unto God—perchance art angry because
of some smitten gourd, or some rose-leaf
doubled upon thy pillow—come forth, after the
shower of summer, and be abased.
    ” See, every leaf and bud share the pure
essence of their life with all around. The
sigh of the lightest breeze wakes their charity.
They refuse not, as long as any thing re-
mains to give. Hast thou no surplus drops of
Heaven’s bounty ? Hoard them not from thy
brother, the frail partaker of the same clay ;
but, instructed by the branches of thine own
planting, become wise unto eternal life.”

Well, this poem certainly has more than undertones of Christianity.

The life-giving water represents the Savior in Christ. Plants in the garden that were near death were saved by the life-giving rain.

Any gardener seeking water for their plants will be humbled by the rains of summer when everything is so parched and dry. How to be nourished!

The master gardener saw new wonders the morning after the rains finally came. Flowers seemed to offer smiles and the trees and shrubs shared their droplets of the life-giving rain. We should all be so thankful for every sip and mouthful!

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

Great Solomon’s Seal Big Blue Berries

Dames’ Rocket and many different clovers are blooming everywhere the last week of May. Just drive around the countryside and you’ll see their purple and pink hues at the road’s edge and in places where fields meet the forest.

Dames' Rocket Blooming Near the Great Solomon's Seal
Dames’ Rocket Blooming Near the Great Solomon’s Seal

Finally. I got to see a few specimens of the Great Solomon’s Seal near the Juniata River in Pennsylvania. For years I’ve seen the smaller Smooth Solomon’s Seal and the False Starry Solomon’s Seal, but not their bigger cousin before now.

Great Solomon's Seal Blooming Near Dame's Rocket
Great Solomon’s Seal Blooming Near Dame’s Rocket

Dangling Flowers of Great Solomon's Seal
Dangling Flowers of Great Solomon’s Seal

Taller than the pinkish-purple and white Dame’s Rocket, Great Solomon’s-Seal blossoms dangle in groups of 4 or 5 from the leaf axils.

Tall, sturdy stems arch over to display deeply ribbed leaves that come to a pointed end. The linear lines of the leaves are striking and seem to reinforce the shape of the arching main stem.

Arching Sturdy Stems from the Top of Great Solomon's Seal
Arching Sturdy Stems from the Top of Great Solomon’s Seal

(Photos above taken 28 May 2015. Click on any image to see a larger view.)

The Great Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum canaliculatum, plants photographed here were growing within a hundred meters of the river. The location was once completely forested and the plants growing here now live under the shade of small trees at the edge of a grassy field where they receive lots of morning sun.

The flowers within a cluster don’t open all at once, so you’ll see some creamy-yellow-green flowers just opening up while others have already been pollinated and are turning brown at the tips.

Cluster of Great Solomon's Seal Flowers That Dangle
Cluster of Great Solomon’s Seal Flowers That Dangle

The plant continues to produce flowers at the leaf nodes as it grows.

Great Solomon's Seal Continues to Flower As It Grows
Great Solomon’s Seal Continues to Flower As It Grows

Great Solomon's Seal Flowers From Afar
Great Solomon’s Seal Flowers From Afar
From afar the flowers can be quite noticeable, even though they are small. (Flower photos taken 6 Jun 2015.)

The dangling berries ripen in mid-July from light green to a dark, deep blue.

Clusters of Great Solomon's Seal Blue Berries Dangle Under Its Leaves
Clusters of Great Solomon’s Seal Blue Berries Dangle Under Its Leaves (Photo taken 12 Jul 2015.)

These berries are much bigger than those of Smooth Solomon’s Seal and quite different from the red delicious berries of False Solomon’s Seal. (Scroll down on that page to see the red berries.)

Great Solomon's Seal Blue Berries Hang on Through Fall
Great Solomon’s Seal Blue Berries Hang on Through Fall (Photo taken 23 Aug 2015.)

The berries hang on until fall and some probably through the wintertime.

Flower Poetry Fridays: Evening Flowers

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

EVENING FLOWERS.

Fuzzy Pink Flowers of the Mimosa Tree
Fuzzy Pink Flowers of the Mimosa Tree

WHEN shuts the rose at even tide,
The lily folds its bell,
And every bud on vale or wild,
Dream in their hermit cell.

Then, neath still twilight, dim and grey,
Or where the taper stands,
Or meekly by the fireside ray,
The flower of heart expands.

The influence of this favoring hour
The watchful lover knows,
And marks its soft mimosa leaves
Their modest charms disclose.

The husband by its fragrance cheer’d,
Unlocks the cares of day,
Which, neath the warm, confiding smile,
Like shadows, fleet away.

The fond exulting parent culls
Its blossoms, rich and red,
And twines a garland bright with hope
For each young slumberer’s head.

While they who best its root protect,
With thrilling breast shall prove,
How the sweet charities of home
Fit for a heaven of love.

But when this heart-flower droops its head,
And wearied mortals ask
The deep repose that nightly fits
For morn’s returning task,

Up springs another by its side,
With calm and lowly eye,
A seraph-planted germ that holds
Communion with the sky :

The flower of soul! Its breath is prayer,
And fresh its balm-drops flow,
To cleanse the ills that stain’d the day,
And heal the wounds of woe.

While gently o’er its closing sigh,
With blessed vision bends
That angel-guarded sleep, which God
To his beloved sends.

Mimosa seems to be a flowering tree that many people adore. The unusual blossoms draw one’s eye to their hot pink fuzziness.

Mimosa flowers stay open at night and perhaps that is a draw for some. We’ve seen it bloom one year and not the next and that’s probably due to the poor soil we have up here on the mountain.

Unfortunately, as Mrs. Sigourney suggests, the long pea pods that develop from the blossoms all too easily start the next generation…”Up springs another by its side”…”A seraph-planted germ”. It can be invasive!

A flowering mimosa tree has a light sweet scent that works its magic on gentle breezes — and in perfume. We like to take the blossoms and float them in shallow containers for table and mantlepiece decorations.

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

Red Berries Start Colorful Autumn

Autumn is a colorful time with tree leaves turning red, orange and yellow. Apples, crabapples and cranberries are in season and they give colors to the landscape as well with their reds, greens and yellows.

Wild Red Berries of Autumn
Wild Red Berries of Autumn

Mature fruits from smaller plants draw one’s attention to their different shapes in bright red colors. We found three such fruits in our local state park.

Read moreRed Berries Start Colorful Autumn

Flower Poetry Fridays: The Hare-Bell

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

THE HARE-BELL;
A DEDICATION FOR AN ANNUAL, WITH
THAT TITLE.

YE have seen me oft, ‘mid the summer day,
In my woodland home, with the breeze at play ;
Catching the dews as they sparkling fell,
And folding them close in each floral bell ;
And teaching my buds, with a joyous ray,
To lift their blue eyes to the King of Day.

But now, when the last leaf of Autumn is shed,
Ye thought, no doubt, I was sere and dead :
No, no ! I have baffled the Spoiler’s sting,
Affection’s token to you to bring.
I have dared the wrath of the frosty sky,
To gather you blossoms that cannot die.

Will ye welcome me in from my toil and care,
For the blessings I breathe, and the sweets I
                  bear?
If ye give me shelter this wintry hour,
If ye make me a guest at the hearth and bower,
You will never regret, I am fain to say,
The Hare-Bell’s visit, this Christmas-day.

So, is Mrs. Sigourney saying that this hare-bell plant can be taken indoors and be revived to receive a flower? Not sure about that. Perhaps she’s referring to the fact that it will bloom longer into the year in the UK when compared to America.

Any ideas?

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

Yellow Flower Having No Petals But Ticks

What’s a sunflower without petals? A little inconspicuous, I’d say!

Beggar-Ticks Flowers Without Petals
Beggar-Ticks Flowers Without Petals
The plant we’re looking at today is called Beggar-Ticks and it’s a member of the Compositae, the Family of Composites or Daisy-like flowers.

The sepals make the posies look like flowers, but with green “petals”.

Looks like the kind of flower that I would draw — I’m no artist with a pencil!

Read moreYellow Flower Having No Petals But Ticks