The Quote Garden
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Quotations about Flowers

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Flowers are the sweetest things that God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into. ~Henry Ward Beecher, as quoted by E. D. Procter, in Life Thoughts, 1858

Earth laughs in flowers... ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hamatreya"

How extraordinary flowers are... People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, 1970

For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. (Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!) ~Edward Abbey, "Cliffrose and Bayonets," Desert Solitaire, 1968

[F]lowers... adorn our lanes, fields and fells, and... smile upon us and cheer and bless us in our country rambles.... the lovely blossoms... kiss the clear brooks and mountain wells... ~James Rigg, "Preface," Wild Flower Lyrics and Other Poems, 1897

I will be the gladdest thing
      Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
      And not pick one...
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill," 1917

Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.... these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Gifts"

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

[T]he morning-glories on the wall
Fling out their purple trumpets to the wind,—
~Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), "October," c.1866

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
~William Wordsworth, "Lines Written in Early Spring," 1798

Break open
A cherry tree
And there are no flowers,
But the spring breeze
Brings forth myriad blossoms!
~Ikkyū (1394–1481)

Perfumes are the feelings of flowers, and as the human heart, imagining itself alone and unwatched, feels most deeply in the night-time, so seems it as if the flowers, in musing modesty, await the mantling eventide ere they give themselves up wholly to feeling, and breathe forth their sweetest odours. Flow forth, ye perfumes of my heart, and seek beyond these mountains the dear one of my dreams! ~Heinrich Heine, "The Hartz Journey" (1824), Pictures of Travel, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, 1855

Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there:
Like a yawn of fire from the grass it came,
And the fanning wind puffed it to flapping flame...
~Francis Thompson

"Look at us," said the violets, blooming at her feet. "All last winter we slept in seeming death, as your mother is sleeping now; but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you." ... Thus the peace and hopefulness of nature were breathed into her heart... ~Edward Payson Roe, Near to Nature's Heart, 1876

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity... ~John Ruskin, "On Leaf Beauty: Leaves Motionless," Modern Painters, 1843

Dewdripping rhododendron glisten faerylike in the porchlight. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), @Raqhun, tweet, 2008

Pluck not the wayside-flower,
It is the traveller's dower...
~William Allingham, "Wayside Flowers"

We love to fancy that a flower is the point of transition at which a material thing touches the immaterial; it is the sentient vegetable soul. We ascribe dispositions to it; we treat it as we would an innocent child. A stem or root has no suggestion of life. A leaf advances toward it; and some leaves are as fine as flowers, and have, moreover, a grace of motion seldom had by flowers. Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others, again, are plain, honest, and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. We find ourselves speaking of them as laughing, as gay and coquettish, as nodding and dancing. No man of sensibility ever spoke of a flower as he would of a fungus, a pebble, or a sponge. Indeed, they are more life-like than many animals. We commune with flowers; we go to them if we are sad or glad; but a toad, a worm, an insect, we repel, as if real life was not half so real as imaginary life. What a pity flowers can utter no sound! A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle, oh! what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be! ~Henry Ward Beecher

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk undisturbed... ~Walt Whitman

The first wild-flower of the year is like land after sea. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days" 1861

Flawlessly, the weather continued. As it was with the garden, so it was with the meadows. The rhomboid fields below the Blandings house lay warped on the hills, and each was a bedazzling flung scarf of wildflowers. ~Eric Hodgins, Blandings' Way, 1950

The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. ~Jean Giraudoux

God's grandest messages are not loudly self-assertive. His most fragrant flowers, unlike the hollyhocks and the sunflowers, do not challenge the attention of the careless wayfarer, but hide under the cool hedgerows and only betray themselves by their sweetness. Our dearest and deepest joys are not those which we have in the glare of publicity, but those which cluster round about us in the home. ~Alfred Rowland, "The Clouds: God's Angels of the Sea," in The Sunday Magazine (London), 1884

[F]lowers really do intoxicate me. ~Vita Sackville-West

The quality of scent or perfume is essential, and any flower that lacks perfume is far from perfect, no matter what other qualities it may possess. ~T.H. Cook, James Douglas, and J.F. McLeod, Carnations & Pinks, 1911

Flowers whisper "Beauty!" to the world, even as they fade, wilt, fall. ~Dr. SunWolf, tweet, 2013,

Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful. ~Jim Carrey, @JimCarrey, tweet, 2010

The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a bee –
~Emily Dickinson, 1864

And then the rose-border. What intensity in those odorous buds of the Bon Silene, making the very spirit bound as though a message had reached it from heaven. And the verbena bed is compassed with fitful fragrance. Even the pansies, with their dewy eyes, are ready to rival the violets now.... Nor must the purple buds of the calycanthus be forgotten. 'Sweet-scented shrub' indeed; for let me hide but a single one of these in some fold of my dress, and the spices of Araby will float around me till the evening. ~Sarah Smiley

The flower offered of itself
And eloquently spoke
Of Gods
In languages of rainbows
And secret silence...
~Phillip Pulfrey, from Love, Abstraction and other Speculations,

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. ~Gérard de Nerval

There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation's braggart lords. ~John Muir, 1867 October 19th, A Thousand-Mile Walk To the Gulf

Flowers are fragrant metaphors —
Happy colors sing "Carpe diem!"
Wilting whispers "Memento mori."
~Terri Guillemets

A glance, that, into the deepest deep of Beauty. 'The lilies of the field,'—dressed finer than earthly princes, springing-up there in the humble furrow-field; a beautiful eye looking-out on you, from the great inner Sea of Beauty! How could the rude Earth make these if her Essence, rugged as she looks and is, were not inwardly Beauty? ~Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet," lecture, 1840

With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters purple asterisks for autumn...
~Conrad Aiken, "Prelude," 1930

A rose's secret is not its scent, but the thrilling tales of hidden life its roots could tell. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Life's Resources," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

Lord Henry went out to the garden, and found Dorian Gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine. He came close to him, and put his hand upon his shoulder. "You are quite right to do that," he murmured. "Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul." ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, July 1890

I wandered lonely as a cloud
      That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
      When all at once I saw a crowd,
      A host, of golden daffodils;
      Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
      Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
      And twinkle on the milky way,
      They stretched in never-ending line
      Along the margin of a bay:
      Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
      Tossing their heads in sprightly dance...
~William Wordsworth, 1804

Against a dark sky all flowers look like fireworks. There is something strange about them, at once vivid and secret, like flowers traced in fire in the phantasmal garden of a witch. ~G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions, "The Glory of Grey"

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude Smith Wister (1905–1999)

Springtime flowers bloom like colorful arrows piercing their way to the sun. ~Terri Guillemets

...See Hieracium's various tribe,
Of plumy seed and radiate flowers,
The course of Time their blooms describe,
And wake or sleep appointed hours....
~Charlotte Turner Smith (1749–1806), "The Horologe of the Fields" Addressed to a Young Lady, on seeing at the House of an Acquaintance a magnificent French Timepiece, published 1807

...Broad o'er its imbricated cup
The Goatsbeard spreads its golden rays,
But shuts its cautious petals up,
Retreating from the noon-tide blaze...
~Charlotte Turner Smith (1749–1806), "The Horologe of the Fields"

...Silene, who declines
The garish noontide's blazing light;
But when the evening crescent shines,
Gives all her sweetness to the night....
~Charlotte Turner Smith (1749–1806), "The Horologe of the Fields"

...Thus in each flower and simple bell,
      That in our path untrodden lie,
      Are sweet remembrancers who tell
      How fast the winged moments fly.
Time will steal on with ceaseless pace,
      Yet lose we not the fleeting hours,
      Who still their fairy footsteps trace,
      As light they dance among the flowers.
~Charlotte Turner Smith (1749–1806), "The Horologe of the Fields" Addressed to a Young Lady, on seeing at the House of an Acquaintance a magnificent French Timepiece, published 1807

Mrs. C. Smith, in her last poetical volume, which, alas, is truly a legacy, has fully vindicated her pretensions to the laurel. Her love of Botany, as well as of Poetry, often leads her to the fields, and she suffers not a flower to remain unsung. The thought, in [The Horologe of the Fields], is fanciful, the descriptions are accurate, and the moral excellent. ~Oliver Oldschool, The Port Folio (New Series), 1807 December 12th, Philadelphia

A rose in sunlight is nature.
A rose in the dark is poetry.
~Terri Guillemets

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers? ~Maurice Maeterlinck, "Old-Fashioned Flowers," 1905, translated by A. Teixeira de Mattos

From boyhood I have been in love with the Wildlings: I rank them among my teachers and preachers. To me, as to thousands, they ever seem to whisper such sweet things, and tell such strange and fairy-like stories of their present and past existence, that they appeal to the highest faculties of our being. ~James Rigg, "Preface," Wild Flower Lyrics and Other Poems, 1897  #wildflowers

"That's all very well," exclaimed the Zankiwank. "Roses are always delightful, especially the Cabbage Roses, because you can eat them for breakfast, but every rose has its drawback.... Ho! and it's thorn," he added, dancing with pain, for at that moment several rose bushes he was passing by gave him a good pricking. ~S.J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925), The Zankiwank & The Bletherwitch, 1896

The slender pink, whose velvet bloom
In tints so delicately pale
Scatters around a rich perfume,
And gladdens all the neighboring vale,
Is gather'd by some smiling maid,
Her loosely flowing hair to braid...
~Michael Wodhull, Esq. (1740–1816), "Ode III: To the Dryads," 1762

A flower's appeal is in its contradictions — so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect. ~Terri Guillemets

Said the other, little daisy, "I am very well content
      To live simply in the meadow where the sun and rain are sent;
      Where the bees all gather sweetness, and the dew falls on my head,
      And the radiance of the moonlight is all around me shed.
"The grass and clover blossoms admire my beauty all day long,
      As I listen to the music of a bird's delightful song..."
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Two Little Daisies," 1940s  [The other little daisy was wishing to be a rose. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

You can see the goldenrod, that most tenacious and pernicious and beauteous of all New England flora, bowing away from the wind like a great and silent congregation. ~Stephen King, 'Salem's Lot

Wandering through the woodlands, we cannot fail to notice a small white, delicate, bell-shaped flower, which blooms freely in the shady place, yet may often be found decking the high mountain. It is the pretty wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella).... It was found by Captain Parry in places where scarcely any other flower ventured to blossom.... It is a humble little flower, lowly in growth, its delicate pearl-white petals elegantly veined with purple lines.... Almost as beautiful is its bright green triplet leaf, shaped like three small hearts joined together at the points, and which spring profusely around the blossoms. It is the most sensitive wilding we have; for so soon as the evening dews begin to fall, it droops its leaves around the stems, and ever seems to shrink at the approach of night, or the faintest whisper of a coming storm. ~Leigh Page, Stars of the Earth: Or, Wild Flowers of the Months, 1868  [Behind Shelley's "sensitive plant" (mimosa pudica, el morí-viví), this is a great candidate to be the floral symbol of the HSP-INFJ! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days. ~Robert Leighton

I wonder if the Daffodil
Shrinks from the touch of frost,
And when her veins grow stiff and still
She dreams that life is lost?
Ah, if she does, how sweet a thing
Her resurrection day in spring!
~Emma C. Dowd, "Daffodil and Crocus," in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

[L]et us linger awhile in the wonderful old Lilac walk. It is a glory of tender green and shaded amethyst and grateful hum of bees, the very voice of Spring. Every sense is gratified, even that of touch, when the delicate plumes of the fragrant Lilac blossoms brush your cheek as you walk through its path; there is no spot of fairer loveliness than this Lilac walk in May. It is a wonderful study of flickering light and grateful shade in midsummer.... The very spirit of the Lilacs seems visible, etched with a purity of touch that makes them sentient, speaking beings, instead of silent plants. ~Alice Morse Earle, "In Lilac Tide," Old-Time Gardens Newly Set Forth, 1901

What a significance wild flowers have, more than the tamed productions of the garden! They seem Heaven's own messengers sent straight to man to bear glad tidings of universal and undying love. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation XIII: A Rocky Lane in Summer," 1850  [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Flowers rewrite soil, water, and sunshine into petal'd poetry. ~Terri Guillemets

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
~Thomas Gray, 1751

A flower in an old book
      dried as dry can be
but beautiful in its colors
      a bookmark to eternity.
~Terri Guillemets

Being perfect artists and ingenuous poets, the Chinese have piously preserved the love and holy cult of flowers; one of the very rare and most ancient traditions which has survived their decadence. And since flowers had to be distinguished from each other, they have attributed graceful analogies to them, dreamy images, pure and passionate names which perpetuate and harmonize in our minds the sensations of gentle charm and violent intoxication with which they inspire us. So it is that certain peonies, their favorite flower, are saluted by the Chinese, according to their form or color, by these delicious names, each an entire poem and an entire novel: The Young Girl Who Offers Her Breasts, or: The Water That Sleeps Beneath the Moon, or: The Sunlight in the Forest, or: The First Desire of the Reclining Virgin, or: My Gown Is No Longer All White Because in Tearing It the Son of Heaven Left a Little Rosy Stain; or, even better, this one: I Possessed My Lover in the Garden. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Garden," Torture Garden, 1899  [If you are interested in writings on the names of flowers, see also Thomas Wentworth Higginson's beautiful essay "April Days" from the 1800s, and the January 11th entry of My Kalendar of Country Delights by Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton, 1903. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I long for flowers that bend with the wind and rain... ~Tso Ssu

...a profusion
of pink roses bending ragged in the rain—
speaks to me of all gentleness and its
~William Carlos Williams, "To All Gentleness"

I have had primroses put in this little flower-pot. They are a bit crowded, and their poor little stems are prisoners; they are no longer in their garden. I look at them on my table like a vivisector. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

There is no longer the sap of life in flowers in a vase. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

These anemones are flowers that have stayed up too late at night... ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

Poor little flower with bent head, you are not ridiculous; you are pensive now that you are dying. You suffer from the cruelty of the stem which holds you back. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

Flowers give their lives to us... Near them, gold and silver seem of no value. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

These three little narcissi group themselves like a cluster of electric lights... A maiden on a lake, that is the narcissus. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

Little red marguerite, not yet open, sister to the strawberry, huddled in the shade which caresses you. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

A marguerite... Seen in full face, its yellow-tinted heart is a little sun; its long petals are like fingers playing the piano. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

Whoever understands life loves flowers and their innocent caresses. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

No man has a heart pure enough to interpret the freshness of flowers. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

How magnificent the flower becomes as its youth passes! Even the flowers have their setting sun. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

The violence of passion in flowers is pronounced. ~Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), translated by S. K. Star

From childhood, I have had a most absorbing passion for flowers. What unheard-of qualities of moss and violets have I trailed from their shady birthplace, to some little nook... And then, how I have pitied the poor things, and feared they would not be so happy, as if I had left them alone... The flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words. They are hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning. ~Lydia Maria Child, 1842

Have you ever seen a flower down
Sometimes angels skip around
And in their blissful state of glee
Bump into a daisy or sweet pea.
~Terri Guillemets

Even if you think the Big Bang created the stars, don't you wonder who sent the flowers? ~Robert Brault,

I hope some day to meet God, because I want to thank Him for the flowers. ~Robert Brault,

If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, perhaps your soul has never been in bloom. ~Terri Guillemets

God loved the flowers and invented soil. Man loved the flowers and invented vases. ~My little variation of a saying by Jacques Deval ("God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.")

Plum blossoms in the moonlit glow
of a late February calm cool night —
magical soul-stirring springtime sight.
~Terri Guillemets

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