by John Milton

Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale gessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears:
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And daffadillies fill their cups with tears,
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.

 

Notes:

Today is the birthday of the English poet and intellectual John Milton who was born on this day December 9, 1608.
Born in Cheapside in London, Milton is best known for his books Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.
John’s Lycidas is a pastoral elegy. John dedicated the work to the memory of his friend, Edward King, who drowned when his ship sank off the coast of Wales in August 1637.

John’s Lycidas poem mentions many different flowers he imagined to be thrown at the hearse of his friend Edward King.

The tufted crow-toe is likely a reference to the English Bluebell, gessamine is Jasmine.

The white pink refers to Dianthus, and the woodbine is usually a reference to Honeysuckle. Still, it could also be a reference to a generic vining blossom.

Amaranthus is perhaps a reference to Love-Lies-Bleeding.

See if you can catch all eleven of the flowers mentioned in John's poem.


As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
Eleven Flowers Mentioned in Milton’s Lycidas

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