“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

The Judas Tree, 1909.
The Judas Tree, 1908-1909

In celebration of all that blossoms in May, I’m posting paintings by the American Impressionist Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) alongside “flowery” quotes from Emerson, O’Keefe, Okakura and Heine along with a Tennyson poem punctuated by a listening larkspur and a whispering lily.

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keefe

“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.” – Kakuzo Okakura

“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.” – Heinrich Heine

The Pink Parasol, 1913.
The Pink Parasol, 1913

“There has fallen a splendid tear

From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear;

She is coming, my life, my fate.

The red rose cries, ‘She is near, she is near;’

And the white rose weeps, ‘She is late;’

The larkspur listens, ‘I hear, I hear;’

And the lily whispers, ‘I wait.’

Life in the Garden, 1910-1912.
Life in the Garden, 1910-1912
Lady in a Garden, 1912
Lady in a Garden, 1912

She is coming, my own, my sweet;

Were it ever so airy a tread,

My heart would hear her and beat,

Were it earth in an earthy bed;

My dust would hear her and beat,

Had I lain for a century dead,

Would start and tremble under her feet,

And blossom in purple and red.”

— Alfred Lord Tennyson


Self-Portrait, 1901
Self-Portrait, Frieseke, 1901
Hollyhocks, c. 1912-1913
Hollyhocks, c. 1912-1913
The Garden Parasol, c. 1910
The Garden Parasol, c. 1910

Featured Image: “Garden in June,” 1911

{{PD-1923}} – Artwork created before 1923 and in the public domain because the copyright has expired.

“The swan, like the soul of the poet, by the dull world is ill understood.”

“The swan, like the soul of the poet, by the dull world is ill understood.” — Heinrich Heine


“There’s a double beauty whenever a swan swims on a lake with her double thereon.” — Thomas Hood

“The stately-sailing swan,

Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale;

And arching proud his neck, with oary feet

Bears forward fierce, and guards his osier isle,

Protective of his young.” – James Thomson, The Seasons, Spring

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine-and-fifty swans.

Adult swan with two cygnets

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore.

All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.


But now they drift on the still water,

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day

To find they have flown away? — William Butler Yeats


All photos by Donna Hailson.