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The Rhodora


Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)

Photographed in Cole Harbour Heritage Park, Nova Scotia

 

 

 

                                             Rhodora

by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1934

On being asked when is the flower In May,

when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.

The Rhodora is a very common flower in the park during May and early June

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite authors from the 19th century.  He was a pantheist, whose essays often dealt with the relationship between God and nature.  He was a contemporary with Henry David Thoreau, whom he knew well and had frequent conversations with.

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