CLOVER by Katherine Beals
I Promise
Sweet by the roadsides, sweet by the fills.
Sweet in the meadows, sweet on the hills.
Sweet in its white, sweet in its red —
Oh, half of its sweetness cannot be said;
Sweet in its every living breath.
Sweetest, perhaps, at last in death.
Saxe Holm, Song of the Clover. 
There is music at our feet,
On the clover, honey sweet.
Walter Thoernbury
While there is no authenticated myth as to the
origin of the clover, it is certain that the ancients
held it in great favor. Hope is represented as a
child standing on tiptoe and holding out clover
blossoms. Summer bestows clover as a promise of
future good. The Greeks used it extensively for
garlands and in decorations for their festivals. It
was introduced into Greece, says Pliny, from Media
during the reign of Darius, the Persian. The
generic name of the plant is trifolium, meaning one
leaf with three parts. The latest authorities give
three hundred varieties. The Druids, an ancient or-
der of Celtic priests, whose name is derived from a
word meaning tree, regarded it as one of their sacred
plants and held it in a veneration second only to
the mistletoe. The name comes from clova, a Celtic
word for club. Some say that the little three-part
leaf is supposed to have been given its name from
its resemblance to the three-headed club of the great
But interest in the clover chiefly centers in the
fact that it is the national floral emblem of the
Emerald Isle. In the early days of the mission of
the great St. Patrick, he was preaching one day in
the neighborhood of Meath, and was endeavoring
to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to an audi-
ence who found it difficult to comprehend. " How,"
asked one of the chiefs, " can there be three in
one? " The Saint stopped and picked from the sod
at his feet a clover leaf. Holding it before them
he said : " Behold, in this trifoliate leaf, how three
persons in the Godhead can exist, and yet be one."
The illustration was so familiar and yet so forcible
that the chief and hi^ whole clan accepted the Chris-
tian faith. From this tradition in all probability
came the adoption in later years of the shamrock
as the national emblem. There has been some con-
flict as to whether the wood-sorrel, or the white
clover, was the original shamrock of Ireland.
Decision has been generally in favor of the
As the trefoil is the emblem of the Trinity, it
is used in decoration for Trinity Sunday. The
early Christians imagined that the stem represented
the path of life, the right-hand leaf purgatory, the
left-hand hades, and the center heaven. Still an-
other interpretation was that the threefold leaf was
an emblem of faith, hc^, and love, the three great
elements in Christian life. Consequently it has been
introduced as a feature of ecclesiastical architecture.
The extremities of crosses and church windows, as
well as interior and exterior decorations, are often
made in its form. 
The clover is one of the plants that undergo a
radical change at night As evening comes on, the
side leaves fold together, while the center leaf bends
over them in a prayerful attitude. This transfor-
mation was no doubt an additional reason for the
reverence with which the plant was cherished. Perhaps
it will account for the idea which prevailed
that it was antagonistic to evil spirits and counter-
acted their influence. The various kinds always
contract at the approach of a storm, and hence it
is known as the husbandman's barometer. The
leaves rise up to protect the Wossom. In some
places it was believed that if a farmer brought home
with him a handful of clover from each comer of
his neighbor's field his cattle would thrive during
that year. A dream of a clover field meant health
and prosperity. Occasionally a clover leaf is found
that has four or more parts, and this is popularly
accepted as a token of great good fortune. 
In some English folk-lore it is said that the maids
also search for the two-leaved clover, and sing; 
A clover, a clover of two,
Put in your right shoe.
The first young man you meet.
In field, street, or lane,
You'll have him or one of his name. 
In Scotland it was once thought that one who
had a four-leaved clover on his person would im-
mediately realize it if any one attempted to practice
witchcraft upon him. Its virtue as a protection is
referred to in these lines: 
With a four-leaved clover, double-topped ash, and
green-topped seave.
You may go before the queen's daughter without
asking leave. 
This was accomplished by the combination.
Seaves were the rushes from which the old rush
lights were made. A reference to a different com-
bination is also found in verse : 
An even-leaved ash.
And a four-leaved clover.
You'll see your true love,
'Fore the day is over. 
A four-leaved clover has long been supposed to
invest the finder with great magical powers. Sam-
uet Lover, in his Four-leaved Shamrock, gives voice
to the superstition : 
I'll seek a four-leaved shamrock, in all the fairy
And if I find the charmed leaves, oh, how I'll weave
my spells.
But I would play the enchanter's part in casting bliss
Oh I not a tear or aching heart should in the world
be found. 
The fairy folk, in olden times when there were
fairies, appropriated the clover as one of their espe-
cial plants. Whenever a fairy foot touched the
ground there came up a four-leaved clover, pos-
sessed of magical power. Whoever found one was
immediately taken under the protection of the little
people. If a maiden, she saw her true love before
the day closed. If a youth, his success in his woo-
ing was assured. If a lover went on a journey and
his sweetheart put a four-leaved clover in his shoe,
he had a safe return. The fortunate possessors of
this talisman were the only mortals who could hold
converse with the fairies when they wished. As it
brought all sorts of good luck at play, it is said to
have caused the club, which in France is called
" Trefle," to have been placed on the playing cards. 
The clover grows in almost every part of the
world and its uses are manifold. It enriches the
ground where it grows. It provides fine pasturage
an4 superior fodder. In times of famine in Ire-
land, it has been reported that when reduced to the
last extremity, it was used as food by the starving
people. It delights the senses with its beauty and
sweet odor. The bee and the clover are fast friends,
indeed one can scarcely exist without the other.
Some years ago an effort was made to introduce
the red clover into Australia. It grew well, but
failed to produce any seed. After one or two un-
successful efforts, a number of bumblebees were im-
ported from America and let loose when the clover
had begun to blossom. From that time the red
clover has been a success in Australia. Beekeepers
claim that the finest quality of honey is obtained
from the white clover. Perhaps this luxuriance of
sweets, both of odor and taste, gave rise to the
expression " living in clover." The earliest record
of this saying appeared in 1710; and during that
century it was frequently used to denote the height
of luxurious living. 
In Flint, Michigan, a clover blossom a year is the
rent charged the school board for a ninety-nine year
lease of a school site. The use of the land for other
than school purposes will terminate the lease. It
has l>een decided to make a ceremonial feature of
the payment of the rent each year. A member of the
board is to be elected every spring to pluck a clover
blossom from the lots and bear it to the owner or one
of his heirs. The idea, however, is not new. 
The red clover has been chosen by the pupils
of the public schools as the Vermont state flower.
The literature of New England is filled with trib-
utes to its virtues. Thoreau, in his Summer, likens
the " blushing fields of clover " to the " western
sky at evening." Emerson, in both his prose and
poetry, lauds it The old country poets have not
overlooked it. Dryden, Shakespeare, Burns, and
Tennyson sing its praises, but it remains for the
bards of Ireland to adequately portray the beauty
of their national flower. 

And so I love clover — it seems like a part
Of the sacredest sorrows and joys of my hart;
And wharever it blossoms; oh, thare let me bow
And thank the good God as I'm thankin' Him now;
And I pray to Him still fer the stren'th when I die.
To go out in the clover and tell it good-by,
And lovin'ly nestle my face in its bloom
While my soul slips away on a breth of purfume.
James Wbitooub Riley, The Clover. 
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