Friday, April 19, 2013

Poetry Month-Bloodroot

Last year was the first year of the bloodroot plant in the front garden. The flower came and went without my notice so I have been on the alert. Yesterday I saw a bud and today one of the flowers is in full bloom. My excitement led me to look for a poem about bloodroot. Here is one by Elaine Goodale Eastman which was included in her book, All Round the Year: Verses from Sky Farm, which was published in 1881.

Not pressing close on crowded ways,
Not shrinking back from any eye,
But calm beneath the open sky,
And slow to meet our curious gaze:

In April’s hour of virgin fame
The bloodroot gives her blossom birth,
And trusts within the kindly earth
The hidden sources of her shame.

Along the teeming meadow-side,
Hard by the river-banks are seen
Her close-veined sheaths of tender green,
With generous frankness opening wide.

When lo! the secret of an hour
By throbbing April warmth unsealed,
In sudden splendor stands revealed
The glowing whiteness of the flower:

A pure large flower of simple mold,
And touched with soft peculiar bloom,
Its petals faint with strange perfume,
And in their midst a disk of gold!

O bloodroot! in thy tingling veins
The sap of life runs cold and clear;
I break thy shining stemn, and fear
No conscious guilt, no lasting stains.

I brand with shame thy peerless brow,
Whose golden coronet is riven,
And cast to all the winds of heaven
Thy drifts of many-petaled snow!

Yet, ere the reckless deed appears,
Thy truth compels my heart’s disguise,
Thy beauty pains my mortal eyes,
Thy pulse-beats hammer in my ears.

I seem myself the panting earth,
The Spring within be newly born;
I feel thee from my breast uptorn --
I grapple with a larger birth.

My narrow senses downward hurled,
In upper air I blindly grope --
I strive to reach a living hope,
And blossom in the other world!

Go, struggles deep, and visions wild,
From heart and brain I set you free;
Thro’ human need I still must see
And grasp the human undefiled.

Go, wondrous flower --thy soul is mine--
My gazing cannot do thee wrong’
To me the conscious pangs belong!
To me, at last, the right divine!

Elaine Goodale Eastman led a fascinating life. You can read it on wikipedia.

If you're interested in learning more about the bloodroot plant, I suggest Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast by Carol Gracie.

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