In their Chapeaux of fire,
Martial as she!
Like her the Evenings steal
Purple and Cochineal
After the Day!
"Departed" – both – they say!
i.e. gathered away,
Argues the Aster still –
Reasons the Daffodil
- F150 (1860) 60
A puzzle poem! It puzzled me for quite a while. I have a guess but it’s likely wrong. Anyway, here goes.
The “Saints retire” to heaven in bright yellow haloes after they go to heaven and they are as martial as the poem’s subject (and that may be a backhanded way of saying they are not martial at all). So the subject has some yellow or gold, fiery and martial in some way. Sunsets can be red and purple before they disappear, so the subject should also be red and purple and disappear in some sense after sunset. The third stanza is a bit of a stumper. I take it to mean, however, that both the saints and evenings have been “gathered away” where they can’t be found. (I like the academic-legalese of the “i.e.” – she might have said “to wit”!).
The stodgy Aster is “still” and cannot disappear but certainly can argue about it with the deep and profound Daffodil – who is profound because his bulb is so deep in the ground! Funny.
Anyway, with reservations I’m voting for the tulip or crocus. Both flowers close up at evening, their pretty faces disappearing. Both can be flame-colored or sunset colored. They are certainly not martial (or at least as martial as Saints). And while the Aster and Daffodil while away the night talking about where the Saints go after death, or where “Evenings steal” away (remember poem, 149 that was asking where Morning lies?), the little day flower is wrapped up and tucked away in sleep.
I wish I could have said Gladiolus as that flower is sometimes called the Sword Lily, but Glads don’t close for the night.
Some might say the answer is the sun, but that seems wrong because of the second stanza: the evenings can’t be like the sun… no, just can’t.