Enchantment of Gorse


Early summer - gorse in bloom
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 maybe elsewhere; nothing was strange save the aromatic whiffs of some thymy perfume 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 labour to battle with, put the crowning touch to my discontent. Just in front the down sank a little, a steep, green semi-circular 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 lee of a flaming gorse bush, and the sweet shadowy fragrance stole upon the senses unawares; something ineffably sweet and subtle seemed to prevade 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 colour; 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 I 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 whin-bloom 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.
The sunlit waves came to me with a startling and happy message that the outer world was fair, whether I saw it or no; bat the sweet-briar 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 unseon, undreamt of, through the lonely years.
Littell's Living Age, Volume 150
 edited by Eliakim Littell, Robert S. Littell