May Flower by Frances Green

All true development must follow the order of a true and perfect nature ; and the closer the parallel, the more exalted will be the attainment. A love of the Beautiful is one of the deepest and strongest principles of the human character; and in nothing is it so universally unfolded, as in the love of flowers. In every clime, from the regions of polar ice to the gorgeous bloom and luxuriant fruitage of the tropics plants and flowers sustain the same relations to this predominating taste, as children and other pets do to the faculty of the Love of Offspring—they are the familiar favorites which associate the feeling with all that is dearest in home, and home-scenes. Is it not proper, then—is it not necessary—since they are the inmates of our houses, our gardens, and our favorite walks, that we should know something of their composition, structure, vital characteristics, and modes of life and growth ? Surely no one could have a doubt of this. Let us then open our eyes, and open our souls—not to the dry technicalities of ponderous volumes, but to the light, the truth, the wisdom—the inspiring breath and invigorating sunshine of Nature.
And now, while the whole vegetable world has received a now impulse of life and growth, let us so enter into that life, that the development of the mind may keep pace with the unfolding of external forms ; for at this genial season the vital currents flow with the utmost vigor
and rapidity. Let us go out into the fields,, that our hearts may be quickened with sympathy, and warmed with the beauty we behold; and thus shall we be prepared to look more clearly into the mysteries of vegetable substance, growth and life.
The May flowers! What a world of loving thought opens with the utterance of those three simple words ! Come out, then, and enter the blissful Eden, where no frowning angel waves the flaming sword of a too abstruse scholarship ; but smiling little Loves peep out from unfolding bud and blossom, and the angels of the Flowers, clothed with bloom and fragrance, shall steal into our bosoms, that the joy and sweetness which are elements of their beautiful life, may be inhaled by ours. If we would listen with our souls, we should know that the Floral Spirits make the silence of morning musical with the breath of their sweet hymns. Let us, then, "with the docility of little children, sit down at the feet of Nature; and perchance she may tell us what she is unfolding in this freshest and fairest Month of the crowned Twelve.
The grass is green in the meadows; and the burnished chalice of the Butter-cup, and the shield-like flower of the Dandelion, sprinkle the smiling verdure with drops of gold. The Lily of the Valley unfolds its spotless petals to the sun; the Tulip flaunts her gaudy robes along our garden walks, while the grateful Hyacinth rings a sweet chime of fragrance from her depending bells—for are not bloom, and music, and perfume, one in the sweet harmonies of Nature—only opening different senses to the same feeling—a perception of the sweet and beautiful?
The Horse-chestnut unfolds its fingered leaves with almost preternatural rapidity; and* the pyramidal clusters will soon be in their full flower. The large buds of the Alanthus tree are already expanding into their winged leaves; and the Vine which has appeared like a network of dark, dead ropes, begins to exhibit signs of life, in the reddish purple of its crowning buds ; while many other shrubs and vines are already clothed with greenness. The Elm has shed its unpretending flower, and is now putting forth its foliage, while the long and pensile stems of the Willow are wafted in the air, as if winged into graceful motion by the light and feathery leaves.
Showers of blossoms, white and rosy, are shaken from the Cherry, Peach, and Plum trees; and the Orchards are already beginning to put on their beautiful garments of rejoicing for the present—of promise for the future. The lofty Ash wears the rich clusters of its winged flowers ; while through the swamps, or along the borders of the moist old wood, the Maple hangs out the full bunches of its crimson keys. And this brings us into view of the forest.
How suddenly has its lately rigid aspect changed into a fleeciness of outline, as we now sec it in the distance; and the warmer hue which has been given by the redness of the young shoots, and the swelling buds, and the unfolding flower, is inexpressibly soft and beautiful. As we come nearer we can see how much the crimson tufts of blossoms, and clusters of young leaves that cover the Oak, have had to do in producing the effect; and we find that the gnarled form pf this stately tree, is invested with a robe of unwonted beauty.
But what perfume is that, so delicate it steals upon the senses like a breath from Fairy Land ? Half hidden among the brown old leaves, and the gray lichens, we find a modest flower, the Trailing Arbutus— its tube-like blossoms white, or tinged with various shades of red, clustering on their short stalks, and breathing their sweet incense on the altar of Spring. Here and there, gleaming amid the unhidden ways, the Pyrus shrub is seen, in the profusion of its flower, white as a mound of newly-fallen snow ; and again the early Azalea relieves the eye with its blossoms, bright as the lips of a sea-shell, looking in the distance like a heap of roses. •
Here, on this bank, sloping and open to the sweet south-west, we shall find the mossy ground blue with Violets. Among the crevices of the rocks above, the Columbine gathers honey in the depths of her purple horn, while the early Saxifrage, and the Mouse-ear Everlasting, cover all the gravelly patches of the soil, with their white and woolly flowers. All the woods and fields are full of life in its fairest forms. Yes; we must learn to regard these—the Flowers as living beings—
members of the same great family—our younger sisters in the wide and beautiful life-series, which we arc permitted to crown with the intelligence of the sentient soul. We have seen how lovely are their forms, how delicate their hues, how exquisite is their fragrance, and how refreshing is their greenness; and we shall yet come to know how the elements of all these enter into our moral being, with still refining influences, to be reabsorbed by higher powers, to which our life is, as yet, only rudimental, and but as the unfolding of flowers. Another time we shall seek to know something of the operations of that mysterious Life, which we are now contemplating.