So begins the poem by Walt Whitman—an elegy to Abraham Lincoln but to me a tribute to the fragrant purple flower that blooms in May and fades too soon. I love lilacs; can’t get enough. Lilac fragrances and soaps come close, but nothing compares to the first scent to reach you on a breeze in early May. A hearty plant, lilacs are often found near old farmhouses still thriving, even if the farms are not.
The lilac bunches draping the fence below are on my morning walk along Brattle St. in Cambridge, at the house of fellow poet Longfellow. I want to grab a whole fistful and run but signs posted by the bushes ask people to refrain from poaching. Longfellow, I think, would want me to have them, but I’m no rule-breaker, so I stop to take in the scent and settle for a photograph.