Friday, May 1, 2009

The Scent of Lilacs

My lilacs are blooming. I'm sure that's later than it would be for many of you across the country (don't they bloom in February where you are, Stephanie?), but they are calling to me now, wafting through my windows from where I planted them last year in the backyard. So nice of the little plants to grow to twice their size, and then bloom in the most wonderful way. 

Reminds me of a poem, one of my favorites, written by Walt Whitman... "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." Here's a very short excerpt, from stanza seven:

(Nor for you, for one, alone; 
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring: 
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred death. 
All over bouquets of roses, 
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;  50
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, 
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes; 
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, 
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)

The "coffin" being discussed is Lincoln's, yet though the poem deals with the death of a man Whitman revered, it's filled with the lushness of hope despite death, power to be found in the flowers, the beauty of the earth, used to remember the dead. And that is what life is, hope mingled with sadness, or hope despite sadness. The smell of lilac reminds me to notice the beauty in the world. 

Some days I really need that reminder. 

Go out and smell some flowers... and think of your own favorite flower poem (I also love Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"). And if you hate poetry, let me know. I'll try to limit posts on it to one day a week (though that's always hard for me in spring). 


  1. I don't have lilac so I don't know when it blooms here, but I LOVE the smell.

    Damn, I want lilac, too!

  2. You should plant one, then... I planted mine in the spring last year. It didn't bloom last spring, but both plants are flowering beautifully now.

  3. My grandma loves lilacs and they aren't in season here for her birthday april 1st, so her her sister and niece went out of their way to get her some for her 90th. they are so fragrant. they didn't last long, but they were so nice while they lasted.


  4. What a wonderful idea... They don't last long off the bush, though (too bad)...

  5. Thanks for sharing - I love the smell of lilacs and they are just starting to bloom here in NH.