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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/209

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TENNYSON AND BOTANY.
"Love, unperceived,

Came, drew your pencil from you, made those eyes
Darker than darkest pansies, and that hair
More black than ash-buds in the front of March;"

a fact which all observers of the phenomena of the spring months will recognize as accurate.

The lime seems a special favorite of Mr. Tennyson, so lovingly and frequently does he use it for illustration. There is much imitative beauty in the well-known lines (also from "The Gardener's Daughter") which form the conclusion of the description of a cathedral city—possibly Peterborough:

"And all about the large lime-feathers low,

The lime a summer home of murmurous wings."

The giving out of branches close to the ground is a noticeable habit of the lime, as it is also, to some extent, of the elm, particularly in Devonshire. The mode of growth and the development of the branches are still further illustrated:

"Not thrice your branching limes have blown

Since I beheld young Laurence dead."

The epithet "branching" refers to another peculiarity—the number and intricacy of the branches in the centre of the tree. On this point Mr. Leo Grindon, a good authority, says: "So dense is the mass, that to climb a full-grown tree is nearly impossible." The frequent use of the lime for avenues and walks, a practice still more prevalent on the Continent, is very pictorially stated:

"and overhead,

The broad ambrosial aisles of lofty lime
Made noise with bees and breeze from end to end."

Its spring-time is photographed in "Maud" in a single sentence, thus:

"A million emeralds break from the ruby-budded lime."

Every student of botany will be able to verify the correctness of this line. The buds are peculiarly red, and the appearance of thousands of them bursting at once is precisely as the poet describes it. Elsewhere, the period immediately preceding the foliation of the tree is sketched with remarkable truthfulness:

"On such a time as goes before the leaf,

When all the wood stands in a mist of green,
And nothing perfect."

The Spanish chestnut, Castanea, is not one of Mr. Tennyson's trees; but there are frequent references to the horse-chestnut, Æsculus. The three chestnuts in "The Miller's Daughter" will be in the recollection of most readers of his poetry. The appearance of the buds