I saw my first primroses poking out of a grassy bank on January 31st and they were, as always, wonderful to see because of their foretelling of Spring. Is this unusually early for primroses, or quite normal for flowers that are said to bloom around “late winter”? If they were early, I guess this might have been because of the warming south-westerlies that followed what was the coldest December since 1890, with The Times saying that temperatures in January across central England were 3 degrees Celcius above average.
The 17th Century English poet, Robert Herrick, would not have been thinking of temperature or timing, as he usually had other things on his mind …
Ask me why I send you here
This sweet Infanta of the year?
Ask me why I send to you
This primrose, thus bepearl’d with dew?
I will whisper to your ears,
The sweets of love are mix’d with tears.
Ask me why this flower does show
So yellow-green, and sickly too?
Ask me why the stalk is weak
And bending, yet it doth not break?
I will answer, these discover
What fainting hopes are in a lover.