Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 8th, 2019

Rhodora

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A year ago today we stopped along U.S. 1 near Whiting, Maine, so I could photograph the pleasant scene shown here. Margaret Scheid of the National Park Service told me she’s 85% confident the plants are Rhododendron canadense, known as rhodora.

Years before I’d ever seen this kind of plant, I knew the great poem to which Ralph Waldo Emerson gave that title, and which I’ve copied below.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

The Rhodora

On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower?

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.

 

If you’d like, you can have more information about the poem.

 

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 8, 2019 at 4:44 AM

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