Shelly, Thoreau and Irises
Since Shakespeare and Longfellow have been quoted, I thought you might enjoy
quotes from two other great poets:
"And nearer to the river's trembling edge
There grew broad Flag-flowers, purple-pranked with white,
And starry river-buds among the sedge,
And floating water lilies broad and bright."
Shelly, The Question
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
How in the shimmering noon of summer past
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the Johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee's long smothered hum, on the Blue Flag
Loitering amidst the mead."
The iris of which Thoreau writes is, of course, our native I. versicolor.
But I am at a loss as to what Shelly's iris, with broad flowers
purple-pranked with white along the river edge, might be. Although Iris
foetidissima is native to England, its tiny brownish or yellow flowers do not
match the description. Ii. virginica and versicolor had been introduced into
England by Shelly's time, but were not widely grown. I suspect Shelly's
irises may have been Iris germanica...but growing closer to the river edge
would not seem like a good location. Hum! Clarence Mahan in Va.