A blossom suggests hope and resilience after a disaster.

By Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake
From the September 2019 Issue

Learning Objective: Students will determine the theme of a poem and understand how it connects with a nonfiction article.


Theme: This poem describes a flower growing after a wildfire. What big idea do you think the poet wants to express?


And only where the forest fires have sped,

Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,

A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,

And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,

It hides the scars with almost human hands.

And only to the heart that knows of grief,

Of desolating fire, of human pain,

There comes some purifying sweet belief,

Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.

And life revives, and blossoms once again.

This poem was originally published in the September 2019 issue.  

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Activities (1)
Quizzes (1)
Answer Key (1)
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Can't-Miss Teaching Extras

Learn about Emily Pauline Johnson’s fascinating life with this article from The Canadian Encyclopedia

Although wildfires can cause tremendous destruction, they can also help create the ideal conditions for a “super bloom.” Learn more about this natural phenomenon with this article

Johnson’s poem concludes, “And life revives, and blossoms once again.” Invite your students to make a connection between the flower in Johnson’s piece and this video about visiting Paradise, California, six months after the wildfire.    

More About the Story


Theme, vocabulary, fluency, making connections

Complexity Factors

Levels of Meaning

Using the image of flowers growing after a destructive wildfire, the poem illustrates the power and beauty in rebuilding.   


The poem consists of two five-line stanzas. Its rhyme scheme is ABAAB CDCCD.


The poem contains some challenging vocabulary, such as scorching and relentlessly, as well as personification and a simile.

Knowledge Demands 

Some understanding of how destructive wildfires can be will aid comprehension.  

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read (3 minutes)

  • Ask students why they think the poem is titled “Fire-Flowers.” Then call on a volunteer to read aloud the Up Close box.

2. Reading the Poem (5 minutes)

  • Invite a student to read the poem aloud for the class or play our audio version.

3. Discussion and Skill Building (30 minutes)

As a class, discuss the Up Close question. Then go online to get our Poetry Kit, which will take your students on a deep dive into the language and ideas of the poem, and connect it with the nonfiction article “Our Beautiful Town Is Gone.”