Flower Poems Personified
Poets have been drawing comparisons between flowers and humans across history. Ponder flower personality traits and find flower poem analysis and audio.
Flower Poems: Capturing Personality
Shall I compare thee to a rose? Shall I compare a rose to... thee? What about the calendine -- who shall compare it to? What human traits does it seem to possess? Ah, and what about that little apple blossom who should not, not be out and about in the winter time?
A lot of literary flowers are personified -- they have human traits. Some are the expected ones. Flowers may be portrayed as delicate and fragile, as pure of heart, or as bountiful creatures deliberately spreading beauty and love. But some poets take us on a surprising journey to meet flowers who have a range of human characteristics, including modesty, courage, and the ability to withstand pain for some greater purpose. The poet may be captivated not by all of the flower world, but by a particular species, or even a single cluster of blossoms.
Come with me on a journey to meet some flowers. I'll share some flower poetry analysis and some audiopoetry renditions.
Spotlight on Robert Frost
Wind and Window Flower, Hardwood Interpretation
Robert Frost is of course known for nature poetry, and he personified a few flowers in his time. In "Wind and Window Flower" we meet a flower with some traditional flowers traits. We assume she is a delicate little thing. As a window flower, she is also quite sheltered. She displays a momentary surprising attraction to the wind, but she isn't really apt to run away with him!
"Hardwood Groves" is an autumn poem, but we get a reference to some spring flowers -- personified one. Before the leaves can become a part of a new life, they must be cast beneath "the feet of dancing flowers". I get the sense, from these lines, that the flowers represent youth: unconcerned with their elders, their place in the life cycle, or their own mortality. They may be a bit callous in their dance, and their pleasure.
"The Rose Family" does not actually have personified flowers. The family discussed here is a biological and horticultural one... mostly. Frost reflects on how mind boggling it is that pears and plums can be members of the rose family. Ah, but not the person to whom the poem is addressed -- she has always been a member of the rose family! (This is one of the more creative ways to "compare thee to a rose".)
In Hardwood Groves: Video (with Dubbed Stanzas
Courage by Robert William Service: Discussion
Now here is a surprising little flower, and one that stands in marked contrast to the one in "Wind and Window Flower". One winter day, the narrator (Service himself, I'm guessing) chances upon an apple blossom blooming in December. He is appalled. Doesn't this delicate creature know the danger it is in? The narrator assumes it's a grievous mistake. But then the 'delicate' little creature explains why it is -- briefly -- here. This is one of the most moving flower poems I have heard. It succeeds in making me feel pain over a courageous little flower pioneer.
Personified Flowers: Audio and Analysis
Robert William Service's moving tribute to an out-of-season apple blossom.
Wind and Window Flower Audio
Listen to the poem, read my interpretation... and share yours. (I say the star-crossed lovers are to be taken at face value -- a flower and a wind -- and they don't stand for young folk on opposite sides of the tracks.
In The Celandine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow personifies his favorite flower. He really does sing it's praises, and I think the above stanza, more than any other, captures the reasons. You see the celandine's bright little blooms here and there in roads and on moors, and in Longfellow's eyes, this suggests a humble spirit, cheery in the midst of poor neighborhoods. In another stanza, Longfellow suggests that the flower likes to greet the poor and nearly homebound with a message of spring.
Personifying the Cherry Plum
that to them are so February
And taken up the photosynthesis process anew
That's from a poem I wrote about Seattle spring. It's my take on the cherry plum, which is not native to Puget Sound, but is surely happy here. It is busy, busy, busy most of the year. I intended to use the picture there to illustrate Service's poem "Courage". Oh, but that's a cherry plum, not an apple, and while it usually waits until a little later to get going, it wasn't too shocking to see it ornament itself with a few New Year's blossoms. It likes the climate, and doesn't feel the need for long naps.