Goldenrod is one of my favorite flowers. It is always a pleasure to discover that one of Lucy Larcom’s favorite things is my own as well. I look forward to seeing the goldenrod bloom every year. We don’t have much of an Autumn in Florida, but we do get a beautiful display of goldenrod in the native landscapes around October.
It’s not only one of the first signs of Autumn, but it is also medicinal. A fun fact about goldenrod: The colonists called goldenrod tea “Liberty Tea,” for they drank it instead of black tea after the Boston Tea Party. In fact, Liberty Tea proved so popular, it was exported to China! I will bet that my 4th great-grandmother Betsey Larcom grew some goldenrod in her garden as well!
by Lucy Larcom
The Poetical Works of Lucy Larcom
Midsummer music in the grass—
The cricket and the grasshopper;
White daisies and red clover pass;
The caterpillar trails her fur
After the languid butterfly;
But green and spring-like is the sod
Where autumn’s earliest lamps I spy —
The tapers of the golden-rod.
This flower is fuller of the sun
Than any our pale North can show;
It has the heart of August won,
And scatters wide the warmth and glow
Kindled at summer’s rnid-noon blaze,
Where gentians of September bloom;
Along October’s leaf-strewn ways,
And through November’s paths of gloom.
As lavish of its golden light
As sunshine’s self this blossom is;
Its starry chandeliers burn bright
All day; and have you noted this —
A perfect sun in every flower?
Ten thousand thousand fairy suns,
Raying from new disks hour by hour,
As up the stalk the life-flash runs?
“A worthless plant, a flaunting weed!
Abundant splendors are too cheap.”
Neighbor, not so! unless, indeed,
You would from heaven the sunsets sweep,
And count as mean the common day:
Meseems the world has not so much
Superfluous beauty, that we may
Blight anything with scornful touch.
In times long posh the harebell’s grace
I blent with this resplendent spray;
And one I loved would lean her face
Toward their contrasted hues, and say,
The sun-like gold, the heavenly blue,
I know not which delights me most;” —
Sacred are both, dear heart, to you:
They lit your feet from earth’s dim coast.
The swinging harebell faintly tolled
Upon the still, autumnal air;
The golden-rod bent down to hold
Her rows of funeral-torches there.
All blossoms, sweet! to you were dear;
No homeliest weed you counted vile:
The flower I choose, of all the year,
Is this, that last beheld your smile.
Herald of autumn’s reign, it sets
Gay bonfires blazing round the fields:
Rich Autumn pays in gold his debts
For tenancy that Summer yields.
Beauty’s slow harvest now comes in,
New promise with fulfillment won;
The heart’s vast hope does but begin,
Filled with ripe seeds of sweetness gone.
Because its myriad glimmering plumes
Like a great army’s stir and wave;
Because its gold in billows blooms,
The poor man’s barren walks to lave;
Because its sun-shaped blossoms show
How souls receive the light of God,
And unto earth give back that glow —
I thank Him for the golden-rod!
Photography by Liz West.