Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.
--Walt Whitman, "When Lilac Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"
I confess that I don't really get poetry. That is, I can't tell you what is good or what is bad or anything like that, although I do know what I like. Isn't that the cry of the untutored? I also have no education about poetry beyond my senior year as an undergraduate, when we read this. After having it crammed at me several times since my junior year of high school, I finally got it. I didn't care if it rhymed or any of the usual complaints. I just liked the rhythm and the way the lines moved like waves across the page. They felt like wind or the ocean -- or what I imagined the ocean feeling like since I had never seen the ocean and my entire experience with beaches extended as far as Galveston. Galveston will disgust you from beaches.
I also had never seen lilacs, and thought the idea of a "dooryard" quaint. In fact, the concept of flowers blooming at all, much less in April, was an azalea and a magnolia away from alien. So, when, at a museum in Connecticut, I first saw a lilac bush blooming in a dooryard, you would have thought I had won the lottery. "Look!" I giggled. "Like Whitman!"
Then, I had to explain Whitman to everyone around me. They were not impressed. Alas, losers.