Fragrance in Literature 1-Celia Thaxter

During 2010 I will be introducing another dimension to the blog devoted to exploring the aromatic properties of essential oils, absolutes, attars and co2 extracts. This will concern the way various authors have incorporated into their prose and poetry words related to the world of olfactory perception. It is a charming world to explore. The way in which such "words" as perfume, aroma, scent, fragrance, incense, smell etc are incorporated into their writings is unique to each author. They can be used to invoke a sense of people, places and plants that are specific to the area and era in which they were living. But through their actual words one often discovers a bridge into a world of sublime beauty that is the common heritage of all who wish to uncover its existence in their own heart.

This world of refined poetry and prose may act as a springboard to wonderful perfume creations, for as writers, known and unknown, have used words to give us flashes of the horizons of eternal beauty, so do perfumers create wonderful essences that take one to the threshold of a world of sublime perception that makes the heart glad and refreshed and reveals that behind appearances is something very precious and priceless.

There are so many wonderful authors to choose from but I thought I would I would start with Celia Thaxter from a book entitled The Poems of Celia Thaxter. If you are interested in her life and other works of hers you may enjoy visiting these web sites:
Books of Celia Thaxter
Wikipedia article on Celia Thaxter
Isle of Shoals where Celia Thaxter lived and did much of her writing

Poems of Celia Thaxter

From Landlocked

Have patience; here are flowers and songs of birds,
Beauty and fragrance, wealth of sound and sight.
All summer's glory thine from mom till nighty
And life too full of joy for uttered words.


To feel the wind, sea-scented, on my cheek,
To catch the sound of dusky flapping sail
And dip of oars, and voices on the gale
Afar off, calling low, — my name they speak !

From Expectations

Across the little garden comes the breeze.
Bows all its cups of flame, and brings to me

Its breath of mignonette and bright sweet-peas,
With drowsy murmurs from the encircling sea....

What care I if the pansies purple be,
Or sweet the wind-harp wails through the slow
Or that the lulling music of the sea
Comes woven with the perfume of the flowers....

From MidSummer Night
The wide, still, moonlit water miles away
Stretches in lonely splendor. Whispers creep
About us from the midnight wind, and play

Among the flowers that breathe so sweet in sleep;
A soft touch sways the milk-white, stately phlox,
And on its slender stem the poppy rocks.

Fair faces turn to watch the dusky sea,
And clear eyes brood upon the path of light
The white moon makes, the while deliciously.

Like some vague, tender memory of delight
Or like some half remembered, dear regret,
Rises the odor of the mignonette.
And delicate perfume, mystic winds that blow

Soft-breathing, full of balm, and the great deep
In leagues of shadow swaying to and fro;
And loving human thought to mark it all.


A low wall, over which the roses shed
Their perfumed petals, shuts the quiet dead
Apart a little, and the tiny square
Stands in the broad and laughing field so fair,
And gay green vines climb o'er the rough stone wall.

From A Thanksgiving
Steady and strong from the south, — what glad voices
are these !
O cup of the wild-rose, curved close to hold odorous
What thought do you hide in your heart ? I would
that I knew!


And freshly blew the fragrant wind,
The wild sea wind, across their tops,

And caught the spray and flung it far
In sweeping showers of glittering drops.

With cheer and sparkle and delight!

And freshly blew the fragrant wind,
The wild sea wind, across their tops,

And caught the spray and flung it far
In sweeping showers of glittering drops.

From Regret

Warm, odorous gusts blew off the distant land,
With spice of pine-woods, breath of hay new
O'er miles of waves and sea scents cool and bland.
Full in our faces blown.


The fields are starry with flowers of yellow,
And green slopes pasture the lowing herds.

A lovely perfume blows softly over
From apple-blossoms on either side.

From golden willow and budding clover,
And many a garden of lowly pride.


I sit on the doorstep and watch you. Beyond lies
the infinite ocean.
Sparkling, shimmering, whispering, rocking itself to
And the world is full of perfume and color and beauti-
ful motion,
And each new hour of this sweet day the happiest
seems and best.


The quiet room, the flowers, the perfumed calm!
The slender crystal vase, where all aflame

The scarlet poppies stand erect and tall,
Color that hums as if no frost could tame.


Where the honeysuckle sweet
Storms the sunny porch with flowers,
Like a tempest of delight
Shaking fragrance down in showers.
It touches with airy grace
Each clustering, perfumed spray.
Clasps all in a light embrace.
And silently wanders away.


By cottage walls the lilacs blow;
Big spikes of perfume stand and sway
At open casements, where all day
The warm wind waves them to and fro.
Out of the shadow of the door.
Into the golden morning air.


As when one wears a fragrant rose
Close to the heart, a rose most fair.

And while the day's life onward flows
Forgets that it is fastened there.

And wonders what delicious charm
Dwells in the air about, and whence

Gome the rich wafts of perfume warm
Subtly saluting soul and sense;

And then, remembering what it is,
Bends smiling eyes the flower above.

Adores its beauty and its bliss

And looks on it with grateful love


All is still: no wind of twilight blows;
Shuts the evening like a crimson rose;
Night comes like a nun.

Lift we loving voices, pure and clear,
To the Father's ear;
Fragrant as the flowers the thoughts we raise
Up to heaven, while o'er the ocean ways
Draws the darkness near.


SWALLOW, sailing lightly
The crystal deeps of blue,

With flashing wings that brightly
Glitter the sunshine through,

What sayest thou, returning
From sunny lands and fair,

That summer roses burning
Shall light the fragrant air?


The lilies clustered fair and tall;
I stood outside the garden wall;
I saw her light robe glimmering through
The fragrant evening's dusk and dew.

She stooped above the lilies pale;
Up the clear east the moon did sail;
I saw her bend her lovely head
O'er her rich roses blushing red.

Her slender hand the flowers caressed.


She takes of sorrow and of joy her share.
In her bright home, like some rare jewel set.

The lustre of her beauty lives and glows,
With all the fragrance of the violet,

And all the radiant splendor of the rose.
As simple and unconscious as a flower,

And crowned with womanhood's most subtle charm,
She blesses her sweet realm with gentle power,

And keeps her hearth-fires burning clear and warm.

From JOY

Joy breathes in the sweet airs of spring,
And in the shy wild blossom hides,

And soars upon the swallow's wing.
And with the singing water glides.

Where lilies stand, a fragrant crowd.
Booked by the warm south wind he lies;

And dreams upon the balmy cloud
Soft floating in the tender skies;

Shines clear from out the crescent sharps
Glittering above the sunset's red,
And of the west wind makes a harp,
And gleams in starlight overhead.


Beneath the lowly window sill
Two little beds of blossoms gay
The wandering airs with fragrance fill
Sweeten the night and charm the day.


A BABY girl not two years old
Among the phlox and pansies stands
And full of flowers as they can hold
Her mother fills her little hands,
And bids her cross to where I stay
Within my garden's fragrant space
And guides her past the poppies gay
'Mid mazes of the hlooming place.


In the quiet fields on either side,
And the green gloom deepened in the old
Walnut-trees that flung their branches wide;

And the placid river wound away
Westward to the hills through meadows fair,
Flower-fringed and starred, while blithe and gay
Galled the blackbirds through the balmy air.

Bight and left I scanned the landscape round;
Every shape, and scent, and wild bird's call,
Every color, curve, and gentle sound.

Deep into my heart I gathered all.


Every last year's stalk is set with brown or golden
All the boughs of bayberry are thick with scented
Islanded in turfy velvet, where the ferns uncurl,
Lo! the large white duck's egg glimmers like a pearl!
Softly sing the billows, rushing, whispering low;
Freshly, oh! deliciously, the warm, wild wind doth


My little granddaughter, who fain would know
Why, folded close in scented satin fine,
I keep a relic faded long ago.
This pearl-gray, dainty, withered glove of mine.


Sing, little bird, oh sing I
How sweet thy voice and clear!

How fine the airy measures ring,
The sad old world to cheer I
Bloom, little flower, oh bloom!

Thou makest glad the day;
A scented torch, thou dost illumine,
The darkness of the way.

Dance, little child, oh dance I
While sweet the small birds sing.

And flowers bloom fair, and every glance
Of sunshine tells of spring.

Oh! bloom, and sing, and smile,
Child, bird, and flower, and make
The sad old world forget awhile
Its sorrow for your sake!


How sweet to climb together the scented, flowery
dearest, hand in hand, like children following hope;
Laughing at the grasshoppers, singing with delight,
Only to be alive this September morning bright!


The tide flows up, the tide flows down:
In that dull house a little maid
Lives lonely, under Fortune's frown,
A life unchildlike and afraid.

To her that tiny garden-plot
Means heaven. She comes at eve to stand
'Mid mallow and forget-me-not
And marigolds on either hand.

They look at her with brilliant eyes.
Their scent is greeting and caress;
They spread their rich and glowing dyes
Her saddened soul to cheer and bless.

The tide flows up, the tide flows down:
Within, how base the life and poor !
Without, what wealth and beauty crown
The humble flowers beside the door I