The lawn this year had hundreds of wild violets scattered over it with a few brave Star of Bethlehems peaking out here and there. The sweet woodruff and forget-me-nots have come back with a welcomed vengence on one hill, while the germander is fighting a winning battle with the ivy on the other hill. I am reminded of the passion of English writers for spring flowers, such as this well-known piece from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Where over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine.
Robert Herrick (1591-1674) wrote this glowing poem "To Violets".
Welcome, maids of honour!
You do bring in the spring
And wait upon her.
She has virgins many
Fresh and fair;
Yet you are more sweet than any.
You're the maiden posies,
And so graced to be placed
Fore damask roses.
Yet, though thus respected,
By-and-by ye do lie,
Poor girls, neglected.
And perhaps the most lyrical of all is "The Affectionate Shepherd" by Richard Barnfield (1574-1627).
There grows the gillyflowers, the mint, the daisy
(Both red and white), the blue-veined violet,
The purple hyacinth, the spike to please thee,
The scarlet-dyed carnation bleeding yet;
The sage, the savory, and sweet marjoram,
Hyssop, thyme, and eye-bright, good for the blind and dumb.
The pink, the primrose, cowslip and daffodilly,
The hare-bell blue, the crimson columbine,
Sage, lettuce, parsley, and the milk-white lily,
The rose, and speckled flower called sops-in-wine;
Fine pretty king-cups, and the yellow boots
That grow by rivers, and by shallow brooks.