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03 October 2011

Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower

Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower,
But I could never sell—
If you would like to borrow,
Until the Daffodil

Unties her yellow Bonnet
Beneath the village door,
Until the Bees, from Clover rows
Their Hock, and Sherry, draw,

Why, I will lend until just then,
But not an hour more!
                                                                  -F 92 (1859)  134

I love daffodils and the image of them as village maidens untying their  bonnets is both apt and sweet. This is the playful Dickinson. There’s no way she would sell one of the precious pre-spring flowers from her locally-famous garden, although she would lend them—which of course is to say that she would give them away. But, ah! New England! No one has to buy or borrow a flower once spring has come, heralded by both the arrival of the daffodils and by the bees buzzing up and down  the rows of clover, drawing their delicious Hock (a Rhine wine) and sherry.
            The use of slant rhymes (flower / borrow; sell / Daffodil) true rhymes (door / more) keep the poem from sounding saccharine. The penultimate line with the double internal rhymes of Why / I and lend / then lends a jaunty, teasing quality, particularly with the smiling finger-wag of the last line.

1 comment:

  1. I read this as a flower notecard presented with an rsvp for drinks later.