Under the Lea of a Flaming Gorse Bush-by Edith Simcox

A fresh wind blew from the sea; the path led at a varying level along the down broken every here and there with projecting crags, boulders fallen from a crag above and sudden walls of rock, where the sea has carved a narrow inlet. It was a pleasant path, but I had seen such views before in Devon, Yorkshire, or may be elsewhere; nothing was strange save the aromatic whiffs of some thymy scent that seemed to come from

The underflowers which did enrich the ground
With sweeter scents than in Arabia found.

But somehow the path tempted me to a distance beyond my strength. I was tired of wide views that seemed just like what one had seen and known all one's life; they seemed to remind me tiresomely of what I was trying to forget, that life itself was like to be hard and tiresome when I got back to it anon. I wanted to escape from this remembrance, and in another moment I should have been caught regretting the weird spirits of the shore. A stronger gust of wind, that it was a labor to battle with, put the crowning touch to my discontent. Just in front the down sank a little, a steep, green, semicircular arena faced the sea, and I struggled on to reach its shelter. Only a step or two beyond the ridge and the air was warm and still, like a June evening. I threw myself on the slope and felt the rapture of repose.

I was under the lea of a flaming gorse bush, and the sweet, shadowy fragrance stole upon the senses unawares; something ineffably sweet and subtle seemed to pervade the moveless air, the subtle sweetness was strange and new—were there spirits of the earth here as well as of the sea?

I forgot the weariness, and half raised myself to see whence this new wonder came. The clump that sheltered me was ablaze with the deepest orange-yellow bloom ; each flowering spiky head was an abyss of warm, deep, odorous color; furze like this, indeed, I had never seen before, every blossom large and open wide, and countless full open blossoms, jostling each other upon every stem, and the flowering stems jostling each other on the burning bush. I drew a big branch towards me, and drank like nectar a great draught of the pure, sweet scent. But the sweet gorse is a treasure, not a mystery, and the first breath 1 drew on this spot was laden with a mystery of sweetness. I lay back upon the grass again with closed eyes, inviting the ethereal messenger, and my heart sank as for half a moment I waited in vain for the perplexing fragrance. I moved impatiently, and threw my arm back to make a pillow; at the very moment something like fairy fingers seemed to pull my hair, and in a breath the scent was there again, and the simple magic of its being read. Mingled with the gorse, half choked by the robuster clumps, but thrusting its tender green leaves triumphantly through the cushions of the younger plants, a very thicket of sweetbriar was growing all round, and the shoots I had crushed unknowingly were sending out their sweetest fragrance to mix with the simple nectar of the whinbloom in a cunning draught of unearthly delicacy. Those may laugh at me who will, and count it strange to be thus moved by the breath of a passing scent, but my heart grew warm with love for those children of the warm, lone earth; they had shed their fragrance year by year, and until now none had loved them for it. They were generous to me, indeed, with the one-sided generosity of power; it was I, not they, that was the richer for my loving them, for thinking with a tender joy that Love himself had learnt his sweetness from the flower's kisses, wherewith the great mother fed his youth, and the refrain to the pretty fancy came to me like an omen : —
The sunlit waves came to me with a startling and happy message that the outer world was fair, whether I saw it or no; but the sweetbriar among the prickles challenged me to own a spiritual truth — the world was lovable, whether I saw why or no, and whether its sweetness was beloved — as by me to-day — or left unseen, undreamt of, through the lonely years. My brain was tired and the thoughts wandered wildly; snatches of old hymns mixed with the "Pervigilium Veneris" and my last thought was a dreamy wonder, whether the love of God was something like my love of earth just now? A wave of love sweeps over us just when we feel the one thing needed given, and the love that seeks its object will own none but the imagined giver, and to the imagined object of our love we give a name — our God, kind earth, or mother nature — and such naming is in itself a prayer, a blessing, and a thanksgiving for the good God's gift. Thoughts like these rose questioningly, and pleased with asking, ere the question pressed for answer I was asleep con dio.

Noon was past and the south sun had travelled two hand-breadths towards the right before I woke, rested, hopeful, and refreshed. The sound that woke me was the tinkle of a sheep-bell, following an old crone, who was tethering the family cow to graze on the common just above. 1 called to her, and though our friendly speech was mutually unintelligible, like two children of nature we arranged friendly terms of barter, and she brought me a cup of creamy milk and a stale crust of home-baked bread. 1 rose invigorated, and before leaving my warm lair bent for one more draught of the mixed, sweet scent. Alas! the island is enchanted! the gorse was sweet and so was the' briar, with their several known and pleasant sweetness, but the unearthly fragrance of those two moments came back to me no more. 1t may be that, as slight sounds are distressing to a feeble brain that would pass unnoticed else, so a more than normal keenness of the other senses goes with moments of excited feebleness. Basking in the sunshine I had felt a dim intuition of ancient kinship with the many-colored zoophytes of the shallow seas. Here on the thymy heights what more natural than to remember some hints of fellowship with the insect hosts, whose very hum seems to catch some intermediate sense more felt than heard? Still I was undismayed; whether the momentary sensation was to be renewed hereafter, or to remain forever alone in memory, I could doubt my life or love more easily than the certain fact that, once and again, I had been drunk with ineffable odors in this sunny island combe.
Under the Lea of a Flaming Gorse Bush-by Edith Simcox