Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Memory: Chrysanthemums

October 22, 2007

I've heard people say they don't like 'mums, but I think they are one of the best parts of autumn. During our years in Ames, Iowa, I spent lots of time on our flower beds. When we first moved into our duplex, the flower beds surrounding the house were a mass of jungle-like ferns. I like ferns in the forest; I do not like them up against a rickety white house. Spooky. So I ripped them all out and began planting things I liked. And in Iowa, anything that you put in the soil grows outrageously fast and lush. In late September, the front of our house was a palette of the brightest colors. Blue morning glories climbed up the porch, mums of every color were taller than toddlers, and the marigolds were enormous.

The picture was taken during our last of 5 falls in Iowa. That is my bald-headed little girl. I miss babies and good black dirt.

The Last Chrysanthemum
by Thomas Hardy
Why should this flower delay so long
To show its tremulous plumes?
Now is the time of plaintive robin-song,
When flowers are in their tombs.

Through the slow summer, when the sun
Called to each frond and whorl
That all he could for flowers was being done,
Why did it not uncurl?

It must have felt that fervid call
Although it took no heed,
Waking but now, when leaves like corpses fall,
And saps all retrocede.

Too late its beauty, lonely thing,
The season's shine is spent,
Nothing remains for it but shivering
In tempests turbulent.

Had it a reason for delay,
Dreaming in witlessness
That for a bloom so delicately gay
Winter would stay its stress?

- I talk as if the thing were born
With sense to work its mind;
Yet it is but one mask of many worn
By the Great Face behind.

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