Violets are annual flowers that are perennially associated with the spring. A character by the name of Ruth in Emily Carter’s 1875 short story, Celebrating Grandmother’s Birthday, chose to play the role of spring in a play: “I’ll be spring; for they say my eyes are as blue as violets.” In this article, I will cover another example of a children’s literary magazine piece featuring springtide violets. The May 18, 1880 issue of Harper’s Young People included in its contents a children’s poem titled Blue Violets, which was authored by a certain K.M.M. Like many 19th century children’s magazine poems that I have covered here at The New Leaf Journal, Blue Violets comes with a charming illustration that I will include with the poem, reprinted in its entirety below. I will conclude the post with links to other New Leaf Journal content on spring and violets.
“Blue Violets” by K.M.M.
Listen! No; you can not hear them; Never do they make a sound, All those thousand sweet blue flowers Starting up from out the ground. Scattered are they up the hill-side, Hidden in the woodland nooks, Sprinkled over sunny meadows, Nestled close by sparkling brooks. Where, I wonder, have they sprung from? Do they live in worlds below? Have they slept the livelong winter Underneath the soft white snow? Ah! if only they had voices, What strange stories they might tell Of the land where winsome fairies With the flowers love to dwell! Oh, you dainty wee blue flowers! Brightest roses June may bring, But they can not match your sweetness, Gentle messengers of spring.
Other Content About Violets and the Spring
The May 1875 issue of The Nursery Magazine, which included Celebrating Grandmother’s Birthday (see introduction to this article) included another literary reference to violets in the spring in a short poem titled May. The violets appeared in the poem’s opening stanza:
Pretty little violets, waking from your sleep, Flagrant little blossoms, just about to peep, Would you know the reason all the world is gay? Listen to the bobolinks, telling you 'tis May!
My personal favorite of all of the poems that I have reprinted at The New Leaf Journal is an 1887 piece by Sidney Grey titled The Blind Girl and the Spring. You can read the poem in its entirety here at The New Leaf Journal. Below, I will reprint the sequence wherein the “shy violets” made their appearance:
And though I’m blind, I know quite well, when to the woods we go, The place to find the wild bluebell, and where the lilies blow; Shy violets tell me, as I pass, their buds are at my feet, And through the lengthening meadow-grass run murmurs soft and sweet.
An 1899 poem by Ethel Ridley told the story of how the forget-me-not flower earned its name. The clever piece included a reference to the violet earning its name, although nothing specific was ventured on the subject.
I conclude by noting that while Blue Violets compared violets favorably in terms of sweetness to summer roses, springtime roses are quite sweet in their own right.