"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Blooming Bluebells

Blooming Bluebells

From “Jottings in the Churchyard at Ragaz” in Poems 1906-1926 by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by J. B. Leishman:

Think of brightness through the foliage streaming
down into the shade where breezes blow…:
how in that strange light’s ethereal gleaming,
scarcely swung, will stand some single-seeming,
tall-grown bluebell, far below….

From “Derbyshire Bluebells” in Selected Poems by Sacheverell Sitwell:

The wood is one blue flame of love,
It trembles with the thrush and dove;
Who is this honey beacon for,
That burns this once, then never more?
Whose lutes hide in the young green leaves?
Who sorrows here when no one grieves?

The misty spaces in the boughs,
No shouts will fill, no stone will rouse
If at those panes we beat in vain
Why hope to quench that fire with rain?
Why beat the bluebells down to find
How fire and honey are combined?

There is no space for foot to tread
Unless you bruise the flower head,
No corner where you cannot hear
The dove’s long croon, the thrush sing near,
Like bells out of the trees’ tall spires
These songs above the bluebell fires….

From “English Bluebells” in The Story of Flowers and How They Changed the Way We Live by Noel Kingsbury:

“Going to visit the bluebells has been a tradition for many [British] families for more than a century, mainly in their stronghold of southeastern England. Starting just as spring is turning into summer, the flowers can turn woodlands into lakes of blue that in some cases seem to reach as far as the density of tree growth allows us to see….

“Historical records of bluebells are relatively few and far between, and the plant was known to our ancestors more as a source of starch for stiffening the ruffs worn by the wealthy of Elizabethan England than as something to admire. It was not until the nineteenth century that writers took much notice of it, and gardeners too. Small patches of bluebells are rather unimpressive, and it is no surprise that the larger, and paler, Spanish bluebell,
H. hispanica, makes a better garden plant. Finally, it is worth noting that the common name is an English designation. For the Scots the bluebell is Campanula rotundifolia; for the Americans it is Mertensia virginica; and Nigerians and New Zealanders have their own, totally unrelated, ‘bluebells’ too.”


Below is a small collection of bluebell photographs, taken at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens last month. While not as impressive a display as those of the English woodlands that Noel Kingsbury describes above, they were still quite adorable growing in sandy soil at the base of an ancient oak tree near the garden entrance, with a few peeking through the seat of an old wrought iron bench nearby.

Thanks for taking a look!

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