Quest of the Purple-Fringed

A little Robert Frost to celebrate the first day of autumn. Perhaps it may inspire a nature walk with your children in search of the last gifts of summer!

I felt the chill of the meadow underfoot
But the sun o’erhead;
And snatches of verse and song of scenes like this
I sung or said.

I skirted the margin alders for miles and miles
In a sweeping line;
The day was the day by every flower that blooms,
But I saw no sign.

Yet further I went before the scythes should come,
For the grass was high;
Till I saw the path where the slender fox had come
And gone panting by.

Then at last and following that I found
In the very hour
When the color flushed to the petals, it must have been —
The far-sought flower.

There stood the purple spires, with no breath of air
Or headlong bee
To disturb their perfect poise the livelong day
‘Neath the aldertree!

I only knelt and, putting the boughs aside
Looked, or at most
Counted them all to the buds in the copper depth,
Pale as a ghost.

Then I arose and silent wandered home,
And I for one
Said that the fall might come and whirl of leaves,
For summer was done.

~ Robert Frost

Image: Fringed gentian Gentianella ciliata by John Ruskin (John Ruskin Library, Lancaster University), accessed on



One thought on “Quest of the Purple-Fringed

  1. I think it did inspire a walk – we found a milkweed pod with a snail on it, and a fallen persimmon which was promptly eaten. Purple gentian hunting will have to await another year perhaps.

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