Easter to me my little sister is,
and I affirm her April’s eminence.
No beauty of atoning penances
prevails on light as does her innocence.
Our abstract night is into day transmuted
when she makes entrance into any room.
A call goes out to sunrise, April fluted.
Wakened in dew, the Easter lilies bloom.
Wide rumor says that she must dine on light
to show such health of it in her clear face.
The concept of the flowers is also right
with gleam implicit in the scent of grace.
O full of lilies in the time of lovers!
My little sister whom night did not mar
wins Easter first; its luster, one discovers,
favors the gardens where the lilies are.
Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD
O Full of Lilies (1956; 1984)
Powers, J 1999, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: The lilium longiflorum is also known as the Easter lily. The University of Wisconsin Horticulture Division of Extension provides the history of this plant:
The large white trumpet-shaped flowers of Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum, are a tradition at this time of year. These plants are forced to bloom at the appropriate time for the religious holiday, completely out of their normal flowering time. Native to the three small southern islands of Japan (Liu-chiu (Ryukyu) Islands), this species was distributed to other parts of the world a long time ago. It was being cultivated on the mainland of China and Japan when early Western explorers reached the area. In 1777 the famous plant explorer Carl Peter Thunberg discovered this lily and sent it to England in 1819. By the 1880’s bulbs were being grown commercially in Bermuda for shipment to the US, but by the turn of the century Japan dominated the US export market. When the supply of stock from Japan was cut off when World War II began with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, prices rose, making commercial cultivation of these bulbs economically feasible in the US. Today almost all of the potted plants grown as Easter lilies are produced by less than a dozen growers located in a narrow coastal region along the border of California and Oregon.
Wisconsin Horticulture also provides helpful tips to gardeners who want to transplant their potted lilies to gardens in full sun with well-drained, cool soil. Image credit: Golden Age Photos via Adobe Stock
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