Dandelions originated in Eurasia, but over the centuries have spread to many other parts of the world, including North America. I’ll soon be posting a prose piece entitled “Thirteen Things You May Not Know about Dandelions” in my blog, “Walking with Nature.” “Walking with Nature” is published periodically in an on-line newspaper, “The Bolingbrook Patch” (http://bolingbrook.patch.com/
). Dandelions are hated by some who want only grass in their lawns, but they are well-loved by children and poets. Perhaps the most famous poem about dandelions is the one written by British poet James Russell Lowell [1819-1891].
I like the way Lowell addresses the flowers themselves. Much of his phraseology is rich: “fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,” for instance. The metaphor of children as “high-hearted buccaneers” who find “an Eldorado in the grass” which surpasses in some way even the gold found by the Spanish is interesting and fun. The poem is enriched by Lowell’s reference to his own childhood, and is given a deeper meaning as he draws a lesson from the value of the “common flower” at the end of the poem.
To the Dandelion
Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold,
High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
Which not the rich earth's ample round
May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.
Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease;
'Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,
Though most hearts never understand
To take it at God's value, but pass by
The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.
Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;
The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
In the white lily's breezy tent,
His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.
Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.
My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin's song,
Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,
And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
With news from heaven, which he could bring
Fresh every day to my untainted ears
When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.
How like a prodigal doth nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
Did we but pay the love we owe,
And with a child's undoubting wisdom look
On all these living pages of God's book.
~ James Russell Lowell
You can find ten dandelion poems (including this one) at
May Challenge: A Dandelion Poem
The challenge for May is to write a dandelion poem. Dandelion poems can concentrate on the beauty of the flower, childhood memories, or on foods or beverages made with the roots, leaves or blossoms of the dandelion. Or you can use the dandelion as a simile or metaphor. Maybe you have a better idea than any of these. Be creative. Your poem may be as formal as Lowell’s or free verse. If you use a form, please specify the form when you submit the poem.
The deadline is May 15.
Poems submitted after May 15, 2012, will not be considered.
Copyright on poems is retained by their authors.
Due to formatting restrictions on the blog, all poems should be left justified. As much as I would enjoy a dandelion-shaped poem, I am unable to publish indentations, shaped poems or even extra spaces between words or phrases.
Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it provided that you retain copyright, but please include publication data.
How to Submit Your Poem
Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for [dot]. Be sure provide your e-mail address. Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem.
© 2012 Wilda Morris