At the Lake house we have a small lilac bush. What it misses in size it makes up in persistence and
a powerful and pungent scent. Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are in the olive family, Oleaceae.Walt Whitman's long poem, one of my favorites, is about the death of Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few of its 16 stanzas.When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd1When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,And thought of him I love.3In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,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 dooryard,With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,A sprig with its flower I break.16Passing the visions, passing the night,Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands,Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.I cease from my song for thee,From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well,For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake,Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.