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Quote Capture: Celia Thaxter

On weeds, men, and the California Poppy:

Weeds and Men:

Mrs. Gatty (the mother of that beautiful woman, Juliana Horatia Ewing, who has so discoursed on the subject of flowers and many other things as to make all time her debtor) answers the question, “What is a weed?” by this statement, “A weed is a plant out of place.’” A keen and close observer of nature says: “A better definitions would be, ‘A plant which has an innate disposition to get into the wrong place; ‘” and goes on to say: “This is the very essence of weed character – in plants as in men. If you glance through your botanical books you will see often added to certain names, ‘a troublesome weed.’ It is not its being venomous or ugly, but it’s being impertinent – thrusting itself where it has no business and hinders other people’s business – that makes a weed of it. (p. 35).

California Poppy:

As I hold the flower in my hand and think of trying to describe it, I realize how poor a creature I am, how impotent are words in the presence of such perfection. It is held upright upon a straight and polished stem, its petals curving upward and outward into the cup of light, pure gold with a lustrous satin sheen; a rich orange is painted on the gold, drawn in infinitely fine lines to a point in the centre of the edge of each petal, so that the effect is that of a diamond of flame in a cup of gold. It is not that the powdery anthers are orange bordered with gold; they are whirled about the very heart of the flower like a revolving Catharine-wheel of fire. In the centre of the anthers is a shining point of warm sea-green, at last, consummate touch which makes the beauty of the blossom supreme. (Ref. in introduction, 1988 by Allen Lacy, p. X…unable to find original quote).

Celia Thaxter, An Island Garden (1894). Houghton Mifflin and Company, Boston.

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