‘I do sincerely trust
that the benediction
that is always awaiting me
in my garden may by degrees be more deserved and that I may grow in grace and patience and cheerfulness, just like the happy flowers
I so much love.’ Elizabeth von Arnim
It is always a time for sadness when the early snowdrops – such a longed-for sign of hope after the dark winter days – begin to fade. I usually take consolation in re-reading a verse poem entitled ‘In the Garden’ contained within an old volume, ‘Our Book of Poetry’, which must have been published in the 1930s as it was originally owned by my two older cousins who delighted in reading aloud to me from it.
Image from my old volume of poetry
I eventually became the proud possessor of the crumbling volume and it has pride of place on my bookshelves to this day, despite its pages being yellowed and splattered with my dirty fingerprints.
‘In the Garden’ is very much of its time as it tells of a meeting between the last snowdrop(female) and the first crocus (male) who, despite being the newcomer, takes centre stage and insists on telling his own story.
C Good morning, pretty lady!
S Good morning, gentle sir!
C ‘Tis very sweet that we should meet
When springtime is astir!
S I watched you peeping upward,
I watched you as you grew.
C Did you my dear? Upon my word
I call that kind of you.
You seem a gentle creature with beauty all your own.
Pray tell me how it comes that you
Are growing here alone?
S I am the latest snowdrop.
My sisters all are fled.
C And I the earliest crocus bulb
To blossom in this bed.
Then shall we not be friends, my dear?
And, as I love to talk
I’ll tell you how I came to shine
So gaily on my stalk.
S Do, sir!
And so on he goes, full of his own importance, until he finally comes to the end of his tale and suddenly realises his new friend looks most unhappy.