Everything you need to understand or teach The Rhodora by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In the heading, "Whence" does not mean when, but from what place, or from what origin or source. Thus, the heading of the poem implies that someone asked the speaker where the flower came from. Which might be another way of asking, what is so special or important about this ordinary flowering shrub?
The speaker begins by noting the season and the general weather. It is May, when flowers are just beginning to bloom; an off-shore breeze has inspired him (and, noting the plural use of "solitudes," possibly a companion) to take a walk. He then describes coming upon the rhodora and its immediate surroundings, which seem to indicate that the plant is alone in an otherwise none too thrilling spot: it is a damp nook or corner; the brook is not babbling happily, but sluggishly. He even uses the word "desert," which seems oddly misplaced for this part... View more of the The Rhodora Summary