Flower Poems Personified

by KarenTBTEN

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".)

Window Flower

window
window

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

Courage Audio
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.

The Celandine

...Comfort have thou of thy merit,
Kindly, assuming spirit!
Careless of thy neighborhood,
Thou dost shew thy pleasant face
On the moor, and in the wood,
In the lane -- there's not a place,
Howsoever mean it be,
                                                                             But 'tis good enough for thee...

 

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

... nearby, those industrious cherry-plum trees
Have shed most of the pastel blossoms
that to them are so February
And taken up the photosynthesis process anew
Whistling as they work...

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.


Your Turn: Flowers to Personify

Any Flower Pictures that Inspire You?
Flowers Watercolor
Flowers W...
Flower Still Water
Flower St...
Flowers.....On The 4th Aniversary Of That Special Someone....
Flowers.....
Flowers.  Scenes from a trip to Anza Borrego State Park in southern California, March 23-26, 2009
Flowers. ...
flowers
flowers
The Passion Flower
The Passi...
Updated: 09/05/2011, KarenTBTEN
 
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raj on 03/02/2012

Nice post.
<a href="www.e-next.com">career</a>

MaxReily on 10/04/2011

Very enjoyable and informative!

WordCustard on 09/07/2011

I often wish I knew more poetry. This was a fascinating introduction to flower poems.

ohcaroline on 09/05/2011

A very enriching read!

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