Sunday, January 28, 2007

Of Yellow Jessamine

The recent warm weather and rain brought yellow jessamine flowers. In February 1872, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote from her Florida home: "To-day is mail-day, and as the yellow jessamine is in all its glory, the girls here are sending little boxes of it North to their various friend through the mail." The mail was carried from Mandarin on a steamboat down the St. Johns River.

Soon after Stowe wrote Palmetto Leaves, calling yellow jessamine "the very Ariel of flowers,--the tricksy sprite, full of life and grace and sweetness," another writer from the North moved to St. Augustine. Constance Fenimore Woolson's Florida novels reflect the cultural and racial struggles and dilemmas of the time; however, she also wrote poetry, including "Yellow Jessamine":

The Southern land, well weary of its green
Which may not fall nor fade,
Bestirs itself to greet the lovely flower
With leaves of fresher shade;
The pine has tassels, and the orange-trees
Their fragrant work begin:
The spring has come—has come to Florida,
With yellow jessamine.

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