Outside, the landscape is white, covered by snow and ice, with more snow forecast accompanied by bitter winds. As I look around, the white is punctuated with dark—bits of stone walls showing through the drifts, coupled with the upright stark beauty of tree trunks against the gray, gloaming sky. This is the point in winter when the soul longs for spring, or at least for a significant snow melt. It is time to take solace and scholarship from poets.
Emily Dickinson thoughtfully provided needed respite from the winter’s cold through plants. Judith Farr reports,
“Martha Dickinson Bianchi recalled her Aunt Emily sitting near the Franklin stove in her bedroom every winter, hyacinth bulbs surrounding her, her eye quick to mark the slightest green they put forth. Emily’s conservatory contained the vanilla-scented heliotrope, sweet alyssum, buttercups, and daffodils, even in February. “Forcing bulbs” was, in fact, one of Dickinson’s stratagems against winter gloom.”
Farr references Emily Dickinson’s poem:
“Winter is good—
his Hoar Delights
Italic flavor yield—
or the World–
Generic as a
And hearty – as
When he goes”
We know that underneath the snow, snowdrops & crocuses await their time, and will punctuate the lawn with color in the coming months.
Take heart also from John Keats:
“Shed no tear—O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more—O weep no more!
Young bulbs sleep in the root’s white core”
Note: The Emily Dickinson House reopens on March 1, 2014.
Judith Farr, The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, (Harvard University Press, 2004), pgs. 24, 272-3.