Monday, October 18, 2010


The Last of Its Clan

Stephen Pentz, at First Known When Lost, quotes the following from Maurice Hewlett, "The Crystal Vase," The London Mercury 1.2 (December, 1919) 176-183 (at 181), rpt. in A Green Shade: A Country Commentary (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1920), pp. 132-146 (at 141):
Coleridge was with them most days, or they with him. Here is a curious point to note. Dorothy records:
"March 7th.—William and I drank tea at Coleridge's. Observed nothing particularly interesting....One only leaf upon the top of a tree—the sole remaining leaf—danced round and round like a rag blown by the wind."
And Coleridge has in Christabel:
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
These are excellent literary descriptions of the botanical phenomenon known as marcescence (a tree's retention of some of its dead leaves throughout the winter), and I'm glad to be able to add them to the following meagre collection of examples:

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