Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Water primrose flower

with 14 comments

Water Primrose Flower 3671

A common creek- and pondside plant in central Texas is water primrose. There are several local species in the genus Ludwigia, the most frequently occurring being octovalvis, which is probably what this is. I photographed it along the Greater Lake Creek Trail in Round Rock on August 1, exactly a month ago. Skip ahead to today, and I also know that this date marked the beginning of World War II, and that W.H. Auden wrote a poem about it called “September 1, 1939.”

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2013 at 6:12 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Oh, my! Beautiful flower and composition! And now you’ve got me humming “Primrose Lane”–life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane / Just a holiday …. What appropriate timing because we’re approaching a holiday. 🙂


    September 1, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    • Now there’s a song I haven’t heard for a long time; I looked online and saw that it came out in 1959. We could say that your subconscious labored to bring up the connection to this weekend’s holiday.

      Every pond I’ve been to recently has had this species flowering, so you have a chance to see it. Probably the closest to you is the Riata Trace Pond.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 8:25 AM

  2. You really did a nice job of capturing the relief of the petals with the angle of the sun. A little pollen seems to have fallen on the leaf below.

    Very nice for this Sunday morning. Thank you.

    Jim in IA

    September 1, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    • Good of you to have noticed the shading on the petals, which with their contoured surface lend themselves to slanted sunlight. Welcome to water primrose Sunday.

      Like you, I assume those specks on the leaf are fallen pollen, but I so often find artifacts of one plant on another that I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 8:29 AM

  3. You’ve created a very interesting relationship between image and words. When I first saw the photo, I was impressed by the color and symmetry of a very pretty flower. After reading the poem, I looked again and saw the shape of the Iron Cross, with all the wartime resonance it carries.

    That poem of Auden’s might have been written this weekend. I did find myself caught by the lines,

    All I have is a voice
    To undo the folded lie

    By a third reading, I was seeing your little primrose as one of those “affirming flames” he speaks of. Thanks for a provocative and thought-provoking post.


    September 1, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    • Thanks for pointing out the flower as the Iron Cross, which I wasn’t aware of—at least not consciously. I’ve been taking so many pictures that I’m backlogged in featuring them here. I could’ve shown this photograph any day since taking it, but merely by chance (I think) I ended up scheduling it for September 1, and that created the connection to the Auden poem.

      Once before, in a different month, I was reminded of the poem and used a phrase from it—one of the phrases you quoted—as a title:


      I think the ending of the poem is one of the best ever written.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM

  4. This is an absolutely beautiful flower, Steve. The yellow looks great in this light.

    Steve Gingold

    September 1, 2013 at 6:16 PM

  5. I’ve been following your blog. I am also very attracted to wildflowers and find your blog very interesting.

    M. Firpi

    September 1, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    • Welcome, Doña María. It’s a pleasure to see your beautiful closeups of flora and fauna from the Caribbean.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 10:34 PM

  6. Like the way you segue from photo to poem. Such a wonderful poem it is, too–yet Auden excluded it from his Collected Poems. I’m glad it’s been preserved for us to read today.

    Susan Scheid

    September 7, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    • I’ve always found it moving, so I’m surprised to learn from you that Auden excluded it from his Collected Poems. Do you happen to know why he did?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      • I don’t. Apparently he “disowned” a number of poems and revised many others. I was really surprised to discover this wasn’t in the collected. It’s such a great poem.

        Susan Scheid

        September 9, 2013 at 8:55 PM

  7. […] If you’d like a close look at this kind of flower, you can have one from a few years ago. […]

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