this little flower

MichaelHaferkamp.PurpleSaxifrage
“purple saxifrage, Svalbard” by Michael Haferkamp

As if some little Arctic flower
Opon the polar hem –
Went wandering down the Latitudes
Until it puzzled came
To continents of summer –
To firmaments of sun –
To strange, bright crowds of flowers –
And birds, of foreign tongue!
I say, As if this little flower –
To Eden, wandered in –
What then? Why nothing,
Only, your inference therefrom!
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #177)

The polar hem – I became completely enchanted with the metaphor Emily used for the Arctic Circle! What wildflowers might there be living north of latitude 66° 33′ 44″ N? The purple saxifrage in the photo above grows on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, well above the polar circle, at latitudes 74° to 81° N.

So what would it mean if this little Arctic flower found itself in Paradise? I suppose it could only mean what we think it means – the possibilities are infinite!

10 thoughts on “this little flower”

  1. she speaking in metaphor of person from another places finding Eden upon their landing in America. Or a person lost in self, wandering until finding a sunlit place to find peace. Or knowing Emily speaking of death and finding Eden…

    1. I like that interpretation, Jeff, especially since I’ve been told that my Ukrainian grandfather was terribly disappointed when he arrived in this so-called “Eden” of America. It seems his “inference” was different from the experiences of other immigrants. No two Edens are alike, and we never can know until we actually get there what it will be like for us!

    1. I have to admit, Laurie, I was also enchanted with the thought of these lovely flowers decorating the polar hem…

    1. So true, my friend, and perhaps this little flower would turn around and head back north, preferring to thrive in the cold and quiet stillness to the over-stimulating bright colors and crowds…

    1. I don’t think interpretations can be good or bad, Bente. That’s the beauty of poetry, we all look at it from our own vantage point and get different impressions from it. Some day I hope to see your mountains – we’re starting to plan a trip to Norway for May 2015 – I hope we pull it off!

      1. I really hope the Norway-trip will be excellent, if you pull it off. The weather can be of all kinds (except winter) but at least you got the light then, and when it starts to be green it is wonderful. And you maybe have some relatives to look for?

        1. Oh yes, one of my ancestors came from Brevik in Telemark county. I hope to spend some time there and find some trace of him. 🙂

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