Taking Over

Backyard Violets 2

There they were, a small lonely group,
huddling together;
dominant in their former place,
now only each other.

In this new land they were strangers;
strange surroundings, strange soil,
pushed in where they once pushed outward.
It required all their toil

in this new and different land
just simply to survive;
there was no breathing space to think
how they could ever thrive.

Things went on this way a few years,
worrying their sponsors.
They did not know how to help them,
and were out of answers.

Then one spring everything changed.
A wide circle appeared
of brand-new individuals;
the old group had prospered.

Though they had seemed to be stagnant,
underground they worked hard;
spreading out around them unseen
until they took the yard.

Each spring since the story continues
as more land is taken.
Their proud sponsor’s confidence should
never have been shaken.

The violets had taken over
the yard from whence they came;
they simply needed some time here
to do the very same.

They came from my grandparent’s home;
both were gone, the home sold.
We could never have replaced them
had they not taken hold.

Today the story continues
the way that it began;
the violets dominate our yard
the way only they can.


  1. This poem was inspired by several I’ve read lately and has its roots in this poem from 2003:

    A Violet Legacy – Choka

    When I was a child
    I played alone many times
    at my grandparents’
    while my parents visited
    I loved their front yard
    a carpet of violets
    in a ring of trees
    glorious when in full bloom
    when I was married
    I brought home a clump to plant
    beneath our own trees
    my grandparents are now gone
    their home another’s
    but the violets remain
    spreading now under our trees

    By: Michael Williams / October 29, 2003


  2. Michael,

    I am a great fan of violets. They are so delicate and shy
    and yet, they weather the storm. I love the endurance
    that they/you symbolize in both the ode and the choka.
    Very much enjoyed!



  3. Thank you Sarah for liking both poems. I guess because I was around them and played in that yard from such a young age, violets have always been my favorite flower. That is why, when I got married and we got our own home, one of the first things we did was go to my grandparents (my father’s parents) and ask permission to dig up a clump of violets. We planted them along to our back fence where there are several trees, thinking that since the yard from whence they came was mostly shadowed they would do well there. As in the poem, several years went by with little apparent change; they seem to be just hanging on and surviving. What we didn’t know, it seems, is that violets spread from the roots. The original clump was about a foot across; suddenly one spring there was a band almost a yard wide surrounding the original plants. Every spring since then more of the yard comes up in plants and purple flowers. Hardly surviving? As if!


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