Idylls of the field (1890)-Knight, Francis A.
Over the soft earth turned up by mouse and mole
and worm, until the foot sinks deep at every step, is
spread a very carpet of celandine leaves, strewn with
wide yellow blooms like studs of gold. The white
stars of wood anemones are scattered like snow on all
the slopes. Wood violets open shyly their pale eyes,
as if conscious of their lost perfume.
And fairest of all flowers of summer the sweet June
roses bloom on all their swaying sprays. Some, with
generous beauty opened to the full, a soft flush on
their wide, scented petals. Others, still folded close,
just part their rosy lips to breathe a tender perfume on
But a few flowers still linger on the broad hillside.
There is the mountain meadow-sweet, and a late St.
John's Wort or two ; perhaps a few spikes of sweet
ladies' tresses, breathing still their sweet perfume.
Perhaps there was the same soft scent of roses in
the air, the same sweet woodbine incense floating in
the lane, when at last they bore her gently up this
narrow way, and laid her sadly at his side one grave,
one stone, and now, one epitaph.
The ground is carpeted with flowers. Spikes of
purple orchis, dwarf tufts of broom, and tall red
thistles brighten all the grass. The air is heavy with
the breath of fragrant marsh plants, crushed beneath
The ripples on the sea are lined in crimson. The
piles of rock along the shore, draped with rich bro\\ n
weed, still glistening from the falling tide, are touched
with gold. There is silver on the flashing surf, on the
wet slope of pebbles, on the shining line of seaweed
that sweetens the cool air of morning with its fragrant
But force or fraud have found ere now a way up
that steep path from the beach. These flowery slopes
that stretch away from the outworks of the castle,
where the breath of clover mingles with the fragrance
of the thyme, have been trampled by the heels of
Spanish captains, who forced the ill-guarded path and
plundered the defenceless islanders.
Still upon the lichened boughs hangs the rich
harvest, of russet, and crimson, and gold. Heaped
high in the long grass among the trees, piles of bright
fruit are ready for the waggon, that even now is brim-
ming over with its fragrant load.
And in the roofless halls, where once in peerless
beauty shone the triumphs of the sculptor's art, the
coronella, mingling with the dark foliage of the ilex,
droops its scented gold. The wind that wanders
through the silent corridors is heavy with the breath
The ground is green with broad leaves of garlic,
patches of wood-sanicle, and belts of the enchanter's
nightshade. Orchis and bluebell, primrose and
anemone, woodspurge and pale herb paris are strewn
broadcast among the bushes a very paradise of
flowers. The woodruff already begins to scent the air,
and the sorrel hangs its dainty bells by hundreds
among the moss of ancient trees.
IT is the hour of noon.
On the soft azure overhead there floats no fleck
of cloud. The sun shines hot upon the meadows ; over
all the valley lies the scent of hay.
Welcome to-day is the murmur of the stream ; cool
the plash of water down the dripping weir; pleasant
the pathway that through bright, scented meadows
follows the windings of the river.
Other feet, perhaps, have left their traces on that
earthen floor. Faltering steps have crossed the
meadow to the well-remembered tree a trysting-
place, that may have witnessed, in its time, scenes of
some village idyll ; that may have watched, in the
scented air of twilight, for a white figure coming slowly
across the grass, scattering torn daisy petals as she
passed, and whispering softly to herself, ' He loves me,
loves me not.'
Not a few flowers, too, find a home upon the rocks.
In the summer the frail yellow poppy clings about
their feet ; abundant wall-flowers scent the air ; soft
blue harebells nestle in the grass. Sober wood-sage
and bright stone-crops wander among the shattered
fragments ; while on all the ledges and in every
crevice the delicate little Cheddar pink, pride at once
of the cliffs and the country, shows its tender flush of
rose on every buttress of the mighty wall.
And among the houses of the hamlet, that nestle
half-hidden among sheltering trees, are the sounds of
the labours of the autumn the sound of the flail upon
the granary floor, the low rumble of the cider mill ;
while the scent of the crushed apples hangs heavy on
the air, and from distant fields of stubble comes the
creaking of the plough.
Beyond the orchard a lane leads towards the hills, a
pleasant way, a road seldom trodden by foot of man,
marked by wheel -tracks only when, in the late
autumn, the bracken-gatherers bring down their loads
of brown litter. The steep banks are a very jungle of
bramble and fern and travellers' joy. Few flowers
linger by the way ; a few spikes of agrimony scented
still ; dark blue scabious and rich purple loose-strife.
The great convolvulus still hangs its white bells on
the hedgerow, but its leaves are burnt and brown.
The camp is silent now : the birds have flown.
They have gone back into the smoke and turmoil of
the streets, their young lives brightened by memories
of meadow and hilltop, of songs of birds and scent of
flowers : memories, perchance, that
In the sorrow and strife of their after-life,
Will come back to their hearts in dreams.
The paths are covered deep with scented spoils
that rustle with each passing tread.