AmblesideOnline AO Parents' Review Articles AmblesideOnline.org

The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
______________________________________
Flower-Teaching

by Dorthea Beale.
Volume 3, 1892/93, pgs. 267-278


Note: Greek words and Bible reference that were illegible are marked with ??

The Editor of the Parents' Review has asked leave to print the collection of "Daisy Poems," made for the Cheltenham Ladies' College Magazine; and at her request I write a few introductory words.

There is surely nothing in Nature of greater educational value than flowers. Children take a wonderful delight in them. I know one who was taken to a Zoological Gardens when she was about three. She was a London child, and had never seen growing daisies. She could not be induced to look at the strange animals, but threw herself on the grass, crying: "Daisies, daisies!" and to this day, more than half a century after, the memory of those first flowers which she gathered and brought to her home is a delightful memory. To her the first sight of the delicate crane's-bill, of a magnificent spike of black mullin, are like Wordsworth's vision of the "cloud of golden daffodils."

The love of flowers should be fostered in all--there is a kind of botany suitable for every age. The shape, the colour, the ever-changing form of the plant, first develops the love of the beautiful, later the observing faculty is cultivated, and the sense of order when the child is led to count the petals, stamens, &c., and to form classified collections, to name the different kinds of leaves, and to trace their shapes. It it important, however, not to weary children with hard names, but let them learn the popular ones which appeal to the imagination, as the foxglove, the columbine, &c.

And I would ever associate science and poetry. For this purpose we have formed in Division III. class-books, to which each child has contributed one page. Each has laid out on a large sheet of paper her plant, named the different parts, sought for some poem about her flower, and copied it in. Then the different sheets have been bound together into one volume.

Those who are a little older, join our botanical club, to which they subscribe. The club makes country excursions, the members write papers, and they sometimes treat themselves to a lecture from some distinguished professor. At our last Field Club conversasione we had specimen glasses, with all the wild flowers, eighty in number, which the members had been able to procure, and the name and place were given where each was found. Professor Lloyd Morgan lectured.

The elder girls study rather the physiology of plants, watch processes under the microscope, and learn to look with reverent eyes on the marvellous transformations of organic life.

Surely it is not possible to do this without also feeling that the visible is but the phenomenon of the invisible. It was thus that the Vedist philosopher began his teaching:

Father.--"Fetch me a fruit of Nyagrodha tree. Break it. What do you see there?"

Son.--"These seeds, almost infinitesimal."

Father.--"Break one of them. What do you see there?"

Son.--"Not anything, sir."

The Father said: "My son, that subtile essence which you do not perceive, of that very essence this great Nyagrodha tree exists. Believe it, my son. That which is the subtile essence, in it all that exists has itself. It is the True, it is the Self, and Thou, O, Ivetaketu, art It."

Or, as our own poet has expressed it:

"Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower--but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is."

And so as we "consider the lilies," we feel that they are "sacraments," outward signs of the inward and spiritual. I may perhaps quote from my own address on the formation of our Guild; for certainly our emblem has enabled us to grasp some spiritual truths:

"Inasmuch as things that are in any sense organic or spiritual live, not by outward planning and arrangement, but by the animating thought, by the power of the ideal, we have chosen a symbol which should express the ideal of our Guild. We first thought of a Britomart locket or medal, but one soon felt that even a poet's ideal, however thoughtful, may be exhausted, that it lacks the vitality and suggestiveness of those wonderful hieroglyphics--[?? ton en tois o??]--the sacraments of nature, the living ideas fresh from God's hand. These are like an ever-flowing fountain of beautiful thoughts. They speak, too, a universal language, they breathe a music which comes out of the depths of the Unseen, and unite in one communion those who are separated by merely articulate words. And so we thought of the Lord's words about the lilies, of their beautiful forms and their wonderful teaching.

"Who can understand the mystery of growth? What is that untiring, that unresting energy, by which the lilies work, though they toil not! Does the seed arise by its own inward power? Nay, the life is there, but it needs the baptizing sunlight; then when the heavenly influence is borne upon the wings of the mediating aether (the invisible, the all-pervading, within which the music of creation sleeps), it touches the living seed, and thrills the earnest heart, which, trembling to the heavenly music, rises from the grave, and clothes itself with beauty, 'for God giveth it a body.' And then begins a redemptive work--a work from which it cannot cease whilst it lives; with glad, increasing energy it draws ever more and more of the dead things into the stream of life, and purifies everything corrupt, and clothes these, too, with beauty; it images that eternal life that is ever working, yet ever resting.

"We have chosen a flower, planted in our meadows with no niggard hand, which grows freely and costs nothing, but which may be represented in various ways, or made into a badge with a special meaning for the initiated. Our open daisy is the emblem of the soul that cometh to light--closed, it is the pearl of flowers, the Margaret, emblem of purity. The daisy may represent the single eye. It is the true sunflower, the real heliotrope, that stands ever gazing upward. It is changed into an image of the sun himself; it is like a censer, ever burning towards heaven, a speck of heavenly beauty, a star come down to brighten the dark places of the earth. 'It is,' writes Ruskin, 'infinitely dear, as the bringer of light, ruby, white and gold; the three colours of the day, with no hue of shade in it.' 'Golden heart and silver rays,' write Lady Welby, 'a type of prayer and praise, formed like the sun. And it opens as wide as it can--stretches open. When darkness comes, it closes, keeping itself for the sun's eyes only. Type of truth--true to its God-given nature, looking to its life-giving sun.'

"But listen to the words of Him who is the poet's teacher. 'Consider the lilies.' Perhaps no daisy decked the pathway of out King, when He uttered these words.

"But if not, the daisy may be our lily. It shall be for us the eye by which the whole being is filled with light, the single eye that gazes steadfastly upwards, ever seeking the truth alone.

"So we want our Guild members to brighten their home whilst they have one, to bring down the sunlight into it.

"See, too, what a prim flower the daisy it--quite a model of neatness, the centre of exquisitely formed lilies, the petals pure white, never crumpled, never out of place. And it is so persevering that it can scarcely be destroyed, and so humble and hardy that it can scarcely be hurt by storm or wind. And there is a quiet, self-respecting independence of character; you never see it turning towards other flowers; it can only look up. So we want our members to be faithful in that which is least, to be orderly, systematic, persevering, not easily beaten and discouraged, not over-careful about the world's applause or censure.

"The daisy blossoms on the grave, and tells us of the sure and certain hope, of brightness out of sorrow--death clothed upon, of life (2 Cor. 10:2??).

"These are Thy wonders, Lord of Power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell,
And up to Heaven."
POEMS ON THE DAISY. [We regret that we have not space for the whole of Miss
Beale's delightful "Daisy" anthology.]

Of all the flowris in the mede,
Then love I most these flowris white and rede,
Soche that men callen daisies in our town
To hem have I so great affection,
As I sayd erst, when comen is the Maie,
That in my bedde there dawneth me no daie
That I n'am up and walking in the mede,
To seen this floure agenst the sunne sprede.
When it upriseth early by the morrow;
That blisful sight softeneth all my sorrow;
So glad am I when that I have presence
Of it, to doen it all reverence.
As she that is of all flow'res the flow'r,
Fulfilled of all virtue and honour,
And ever alike fair and fresh hue
As well in winter as in summer new.
* * * * *
My busie ghost, that thirsteth always new,
To seen this floure so young, so fresh of hewe,
Constrained my with so greedy desire,
That in my feart I fele yet the fire
That made me rise ere it were daie,
For to been at the resurrection
Of this floure, when that it should unclose
Again the sun that rose as redde as rose;
And down on knees anon right I me sette,
And as I could, this fresh floure I grette,
Kneeling always, till it unclosed was,
Upon the small, softe, swete gras,
That was with floures swete embroidered all.
* * * * *
And whan that it is eve I renne blithe,
As sone as ever the sun ginneth west,
To seen this floure, how it woll go to rest,
For fear of night; so hateth she darknesse.
* * * * *

The Daisy is sacred to the wife of Admetos, to
The great goodness of the Queen Alceste
That turned was into a daisie.
She that for her husband chose to die,
And eke to fo to hell, rather than he;
And Hercules rescued her, parde,
And brought her out of hell again to blisse!
* * * * *
Her white corowne beareth of it witnesse;
For all so many virtues had she,
As small florounes in her corowne be.
CHAUCER'S Legend of Good Women

There began anon
A lady for to sing right womanly
A bargaret in praising the daisy;
For, as methought, among her notes sweet
She said, "Si douce est la Margaret!"
Flower and Leaf.


The daisy and the buttercup,
For which the laughing children stoop,
A hundred times throughout the day,
In their rude romping summer play,
So thickly now the pasture crowd,
In gold and silver sheeted cloud
As if the drops of April showers
Had woo'd the sun and changed to flowers.
CLARE'S Shepherd's Calendar.


Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem;
To spare thee now is past my power,
Thou bonnie gem.
BURNS.


Of lowly fields you think no scorn,
Yet gayest gardens would adorn,
And grace wherever set;
How seated in your lowly bower,
Or wedded, a transplanted flower,
I bless you, Margaret.
* * * * *
In youth from rock to rock I went;
From hill to hill in discontent
Of pleasure high and turbulent,
Most pleased when most uneasy;
But now my own delights I make,--
My thirst at every rill can slake,
And gladly Nature's love partake,
Of Thee, sweet daisy!

Thee Winter in the garland wears
That thinly decks his few grey hairs;
Spring parts the clouds with softest airs
That she may sun thee;
Whole Summer fields are thine by right;
And Autumn, melancholy wight,
Doth in thy crimson head delight,
When rains are on thee.

In shoals and bands, a morrice train,
Thou greet'st the traveller in the lane;
Pleased at his greeting thee again,
Yet nothing daunted,
Nor grieved if thou be set at nought;
And oft alone in nooks remote
We meet thee, like a pleasant thought,
When such are wanted.

Be violets in their secret mews
The flowers the wanton Zephyrs choose;
Proud be the rose, with rains and dews
Her head impearling.
Thou liv'st with less ambitious aim,
Yet hast not gone without thy fame;
Thou art indeed by many a claim
The Poet's darling.

If to a rock from rains he fly,
Or, some bright day of April sky,
Imprisoned by hot sunshine lie
Near the green holly,
And wearily at length should fare;
He needs but look about, and there
Thou art!--a friend at hand, to scare
His melancholy.

A hundred times, by rock or bower,
Ere thus I have lain couched an hour,
Have I derived from thy sweet power
Some apprehension;
Some steady love; some brief delight;
Some memory that had taken flight!
Some chime of fancy wrong or right;
Or stray invention.

If stately passions in me burn,
And one chance look to Thee should turn,
I drink out of an humbler urn
A lowlier pleasure;
The homely sympathy that needs
The common life, our nature breeds;
A wisdom fitted to the needs
Of hearts at leisure.

Fresh-smitten by the morning ray,
When thou art up, alert and gay,
Then, cheerful Flower! my spirits play
With kindred gladness;
And when, at dusk, by dews opprest
Thou sink'st, the image of thy rest
Hath often eased my pensive breast
Of careful sadness.

And all day long I number yet
All seasons through another debt,
Which I, wherever thou art met,
To thee am owing;
An instinct call it, a blind sense;
A happy, genial influence,
Coming one know not how, nor whence,
Not whither going.

Child of the year! that round dost run
Thy pleasant course,--when days begun
As ready to salute the sun
As lark or leveret;
Thy long-lost praise thou shalt regain;
Not be less dear to future men
Than in old time; thou not in vain
Art Nature's favorite.
WORDSWORTH.


TO THE DAISY.
With little here to do or see
Of things that in the great wor'd be,
Daisy! again I talk to thee
For thou art worthy,
Thou unassuming commonplace
Of Nature, with that homely face,
And yet with something of a grace,
Which love makes for thee!

Oft on the dappled turf at ease
I sit; and play with similes,
Loose types of thought through all degrees,
Thoughts of thy raising;
And many a fond and idle name
I give to thee, for praise or blame,
As is the humour of the game,
While I am gazing.

A nun demure of lowly port;
Or sprightly maiden, of Love's court,
In thy simplicity the sport
Of all temptations;
A queen in crown of rubies drest;
A starveling in a scanty vest;
Are all, as seems to suit thee best,
Thy appellations.

A little cyclops, with one eye
Staring to threaten and defy,
That thought comes next--and instantly
The freak is over.
The shape will banish--and behold
A silver shield with boss of gold
That spreads itself, some faery bold
In fight to cover.

I see thee glittering from afar,
And then thou art a pretty star;
Not quite so fair as many are
In heaven above thee!
Yet like a star, with glittering crest,
Self-poised in air thou seem'st to rest,--
May peace come never to his nest,
Who shall reprove thee?

Bright Flower! for by that name at last,
When all my reveries are past,
I call thee, and to that cleave fast,
Sweet silent creature!
That breath'st with me in sun and air,
Do thou, as thou are wont, repair
My heart with gladness, and a share
Of thy meek nature!
* * * *
Bright flower, whose home is everywhere!
A pilgrim bold in Nature's care,
And all the long year through, the heir
Of joy or sorrow,
Methinks that there abides in thee
Some concord with humanity,
Given to no other flower I see
The forest through!
* * * *
Sweet flower! belike one day to have
A place upon the Poet's grave.
WORDSWORTH.

. . . . the daisy that doth rise
Wherever sunbeams shine, or winds do flow.
R. NICHOLL.

Stoop where thou wilt, thy careless hand
Some random bud will meet,
Thou canst not tread, but thou wilt find
The daisy at thy feet.
HOOD.--Song.

What hand but His who arched the skies
And pours the dry spring's living flood,
Wondrous alike in all He tries,
Could raise the daisy's purple bud,
Mould its green cup, its wiry stem,
Its fringed border nicely spin,
And cut the gold-embossed gem
That, set in silver, gleams within,
And fling it, unrestrained and free,
O'er hill and dale, and desert sod?
That man, where'er he walks, may see
At every step the stamp of God
MASON GOOD.

The daisy is the meekest flower
That grows in wood or field;
To wind and rain, and footstep rude,
Its slender stem will yield.
M. S. C.

Daisies quain', with savour none,
But golden eyes of great delight
That all men love; they be so bright.
OWEN MEREDITH'S Wanderer.

I know the way she went
Home with her maiden posy,
For her feet have touched the meadows,
And left the daisies rosy.
TENNYSON.

Is the sun far from any smallest flower,
That lives by His dear presence every hour?
"Dear presence every hour!" What of the night,
When crumpled daisies shut gold sadness in?
They memory then, warm lingering in the ground,
Mourned dewy in the air, keeps their hearts sound,
Till fresh with day their lapsed life begins.
G. MACDONALD.

So the daisied meadows
Close their petals white
When the brooding shadows
Make the day like night,
For shadows may be burdens to us, when we live on light.
WALTER SMITH'S Kildrostram.

1. On steep green bank, or on broad green meadow,
Glad of the sun, content in the shadow,
Harvest white of the fairies sowing,
See, the daisies in the millions growing.

2. Daisies grow 'mid the churchyard grasses,
By white roads where the tired foot passes,
In smooth meadows, 'mid dew and clover,
'Neath the foot of the waiting lover.

3. Here, there, everywhere, old Earth raises
Baby faces of white frilled daisies.
Full-grown roses may laugh and flout them,
What would spring-time be without them?

4. Not the rose does out heart most long for,
Not the rose is our sweetest song for,
But for the daisy, the star flower gleaming,
Through the mists of the poet's dreaming.

5. Beautiful meadows with daisies brightened,
Tired hearts rested and sad hearts lightened,
Let these be in the song I sing you,
In these daisies I pluck and bring you.
E. NESBIT.

The daisies, vermeil-rimm'd and white,
Hide in deep herbage.
KEATS.

Oft have I watched thy closing buds at eve,
Which for the parting sunbeams seemed to grieve;
And, when gay morning glit the dew-bright plain,
Seen them unclasp their folded leaves again;
Nor he who sung--"the daisy is so sweet"--
More dearly loved thy pearly form to greet;
When on his scarf the knight the daisy bound,
And dames at tourneys shone, with daisies crown'd,
And fays forsook the purer fields above,
To hail the daisy "Flower of faithful love."
LEYDEN.

And the poor daisy in his way
Shall mingle in the poet's lay.
This, lowly daisy, is thy lot;
Say, canst thou be content or not?
The little floweret "coloured up"
Till rosy redness fringed its cup;
And never has it lost the flush
Of pride and joy, that called the blush.
ELIZA COOK.

There is a flower, a little flower,
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour
And weathers every sky.

The prouder beauties of the field
In gay but quick succession shine,
Race after race their honours yield,
They flourish and decline.

But this small flower, to Nature dear,
While moons and stars their courses run,
Wreathes the whole circle of the year,
Companion of the sun.

It smiles upon the lap of May,
To sultry August spreads its charms,
Lights pale October on his way,
And twines December's arms.

The purple heath and golden broom
On moory mountains catch the gale,
O'er lawns the lily sheds perfume,
The violet in the vale.

But this bold floweret climbs the hill,
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Plays on the margin of the rill,
Peeps round the fox's den.

Within the garden's cultured round
It shares the sweet carnation's bed;
And blooms on consecrated ground
In honour of the dead.

The lambkin crops its crimson gem,
The wild bee murmurs on its breast,
The blue fly bends its pensile stem,
Light o'er the skylark's nest.

'Tis Flora's page;--in every place,
In every season, fresh and fair,
It opens with perennial grace,
And blossoms everywhere.

On waste and woodland, rock and plain,
Its humble buds unheeded rise,
The rose has but a summer reign,--
The daisy never dies.
J. E. B. MONTGOMERY.

All thy strength from weakness won,
Earthward when the storms may beat,
Back up-springing towards the sun,
Little pure-eyed Marguerite.

Lover of the earth and sky,
Making common pathways bright,
Towards the sun, a steadfast eye,
Unto men a heart of light.
ANNIE JOHNSON BROWN.