Today has been the warmest February day on record… I saw people with bare arms, bare legs, sandals, enjoying the mild air and warm sun. The birds were absolutely singing their heads off, and spring flowers are springing everywhere – there’s colour all around. Wordsworth wrote this poem at the beginning of February in 1796 – apparently it had been the seventh warmest winter as recorded between 1659 and 1900:
One of the warmest winters (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=7 Value=6.20; Dec=6.6, Jan=7.3, Feb=4.7 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1834, 1869, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
Bristowa’s bard, by the way is Bristol’s bard, Chatterton the young prodigy, ‘the wond’rous boy’ who was born in the city in 1752 and died in London at the age of seventeen in 1770. Having only recently heard of amaranth, I find it it now appears in this poem.
So February blooms:
Lines On Observing A Blossom On The First Of February
Sweet flower! that peeping from thy russet stem
Unfoldest timidly, (for in strange sort
This dark, frieze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering month
Hath borrowed Zephyr’s voice, and gazed upon thee
With blue voluptuous eye) alas poor flower!
These are but flatteries of the faithless year.
Perchance, escaped its unknown polar cave,
E’en now the keen north-east is on its way.
Flower that must perish! shall I liken thee
To some sweet girl of too, too rapid growth,
Nipped by consumption mid untimely charms?
Or to Bristowa’s bard, the wond’rous boy!
As amaranth, which earth scarce seemed to own,
Till disappointment come, and pelting wrong
Beat it to earth? or with indignant grief
Shall I compare thee to poor Poland’s hope,
Bright flower of hope killed in the opening bud?
Farewell, sweet blossom! better fate be thine
And mock my boding! Dim similitudes
Weaving in moral strains, I’ve stolen one hour
From anxious self, life’s cruel taskmaster!
And the warm wooings of this sunny day
Tremble along my frame, and harmonize
The attempered organ, that even saddest thoughts
Mix with some sweet sensations, like harsh tunes
Played deftly on a soft-toned instrument.