In the high woods that crest our hills,
Upon a steep, rough slope of forest ground,
Where few flowers grow, sweet blooms to–day I found
Of the Autumn Crocus, blowing pale and fair.
Dim falls the sunlight there;
And a mild fragrance the lone thicket fills.
Child of the pensive autumn woods!
So lovely, though thou dwell obscure and lone,
And though thy flush and gaiety be gone;
Say, among flowers of the sad, human mind,
Where shall I ever find
So rare a grace? in what shy solitudes?
~Robert Laurence Binyon from “Autumn Crocus”
Whether mid-winter or early autumn
the crocus are unexpected,
surprising even to the observant.
Hidden potential beneath the surface,
an incubation readily triggered
by advancing or retreating light from above.
Waiting with temerity,
to be called forth from earthly grime
and granted reprieve from indefinite interment.
A luminous gift of hope and beauty
borne from a humble bulb;
plain and only dirt adorned.
Summoned, the deep lavender harbinger rises
from sleeping frosted ground in February
or from spent topsoil, exhausted in October.
These bold blossoms do not pause
for snow and ice nor hesitate to pierce through
a musty carpet of fallen leaves.
They break free to surge skyward
cloaked in tightly bound brilliance,
spaced strategically to be deployed against the darkness.
Slowly unfurling, the tender petals peel to reveal golden crowns,
royally renouncing the chill of winter’s beginning and end,
staying brazenly alive when little else is.
In the end, they painfully wilt, deeply bruised and purple
under the Sun’s reflection made manifest;
returning defeated, inglorious, fallen, to dust.
Yet they will rise again.
…we know what is coming behind the crocus. The spring comes slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned. . . It remains with us to follow or not, to die in this winter, or to go on into that spring and that summer.
C.S. Lewis from God in the Dock