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Images of scarcity, drought, and death in the natural world of the poem parallel the oppression of race, sex, class, and economics that comprise the reality of Karintha:


And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,

Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,

Failed in its function as the autumn rake;

Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take

All water from the streams; dead birds were found

In wells a hundred feet below the ground--


It is a dismal landscape into which the flower blooms. The old people are startled by this omen of false spring that they know can only be a sign of greater misfortune for them all. In their superstition, they perceive in it the human dimensions of "Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear, / Beauty so sudden for that time of Year."