June 9, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Find the great fringed orchis out apparently two or three days. Two are almost fully out, two or three only budded. A large spike of peculiarly delicate pale-purple flowers growing in the luxuriant and shady swamp amid hellebores, ferns, golden senecios, etc., etc. It is remarkable that this, one of the fairest of all our flowers, should also be one of the rarest, ––for the most part not seen at all.  I think that no other but myself in Concord annually finds it.  That so queenly a flower should annually bloom so rarely and in such withdrawn and secret places as to be rarely seen by man!

The village belle never sees this more delicate belle of the swamp. How little relation between our life and its!  Most of us never see it or hear of it. The seasons go by to us as if it were not.  A beauty reared in the shade of a convent, who has never strayed beyond the convent bell. Only the skunk or owl or other inhabitant of the swamp beholds it. In the damp twight of the swamp, where it is wet to the feet. How little anxious to display its attractions ! It does not pine because man does not admire it. How independent on our race! It lifts its delicate spike amid the hellebore and ferns in the deep shade of the swamp. I am inclined to think of it as a relic of the past as much as the arrowhead, or the tomahawk I found on the 7th.