Flowers, sonnet number VI of The River Duddon series of poems, is an atypical sonnet in that it doesn’t describe the affection displayed by one person to another. This sonnet seems describe the concept of acceptance. While this sonnet doesn’t explicitly describe a relationship between two lovers, it does symbolize the theme of acceptance.
The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is ABBA ABBA CDE CDE, which fits perfectly in the template of an Italian sonnet, or Petrarchan sonnet. In this poem, the octave describes the positive pieces of the forest—the bumblebees perform their “harmless robberies”, or the bees are finding the pollen in the plant and removing its pollen. To the plant, the removal of the pollen does not harm the plant but instead allows it to prosper. Pollination is the reproductive system for plants so the bee is actually helping the plant produce offspring and spread its population. The octave describes the bank of the river as a very pleasurable place. It states that the area does not lack “old remains of hawthorn bowers/where small birds warbled to their paramours.” This means that the area has shaded areas where the birds can mellifluously lure their mates. The forest seems to survive without trouble and assist all of those who live in it.
The volta separates the octave from the sestet and the mood of the sonnet switches slightly. In the sestet, the description of the forest continues. However, the description adjusts from positive to a bit darker—it shows that not all things are made to be helpful. The eye-bright, a plant native to Europe that is known to cause eye irritation, is described as “trembling.” However, in the last line, “All kinds alike seemed favorites of Heaven,” shows acceptance. All these small entities work together to create this forest on the bank of the river and all are necessary to function properly. All the aspects of the river bank, those that help and those that may harm, are accepted as integral members of the system.