Daily Archives: March 28, 2009

What is the Crocus?

The feet of people walking home
With gayer sandals go-
The Crocus-till she rises
The Vassal of the snow-
The lips at Hallelujah
Long years of practise bore
Till bye and bye these Bargemen
Walked singing on the shore.

Pearls are the Diver’s farthings
Extorted from the sea-
Pinions-the Seraph’s wagon
Pedestrian once-as we-
Night is the morning’s Canvas
Death, but our rapt attention
To Immortality.

My figures fail to tel me
How far the Village lies-
Whose peasants are the Angels-
Whose Cantons dot the skies-
My Classics veil their faces-
My faith that Dark adores-
Which from its solemn abbeys
Such resurrection pours.

Emily Dickinson, 1858–#7

March 28
Weather: 40s partially cloudy

What a beautiful poem. “Death, but our rapt attention/To Immortality/My figures fail to tell me/How far the village lies….” Honesty–that’s Emily Dickinson. “The Crocus–till she rises/The Vassal of the snow.”

So, what does it mean to be a vassal or slave/subject/subordinate to the snow until you “rise”? And, “pinion”–that is a loaded word. The flight feathers of a bird–if you cut them off, they can’t fly. The “Seraph” who sits next to God’s throne.

I get so much longing, and even hope, in this poem–and the Crocus is such a powerful image in the poem–I believe, of these two things. And every year, Emily gets to look forward to the Crocus emerging in her Early Spring Garden.


During the Victorian era, people often gave gifts of flowers to represent some symbolic meaning that most everyone understood. Emily Dickinson did this a lot–sometimes accompanied by a poem. So, what did the crocus mean symbolically? From what I understand, to most, it represented cheefulness and gladness. But what about to Emily?

Here is a poem Emily sent to her cousin–accompanied by a Crocus:

She dwelleth in the Ground —
Where Daffodils — abide —
Her Maker — Her Metropolis —
The Universe — Her Maid —

To fetch Her Grace — and Hue —
And Fairness — and Renown —
The Firmament’s — To Pluck Her —
And fetch Her Thee — be mine —
(Emily Dickinson, 744)

I must admit, I have no experience with Crocuses. I’m a Crocus dummy. It’s not a very elegant name for a flower–in fact, it’s kind of funny.

Do you have experience with it–in your garden, or arrangements you’ve put together or received, poetry or art? What are you thoughts about this flower?