A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 The language of flowers

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Go to page : 1, 2  Next
AuthorMessage
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 12:55

Presenting an honoured guest with a bouquet of flowers, or placing a wreath of foliage on a tomb 'in rememberance', seems natural enough and both have a very long history. But when and how did the idea of such floral tributes develop?

And what about the 'language of flowers'... ? 

While I've always associated 'a dozen red roses' with a declaration of love, I didn't realise that flowers could be used to silently say so many other things. I once, in late Autumn, turned up at a dinner-party in France with a lovely bouquet that included chrysanthemums (seasonally available and long-lasting as cut flowers to my mind) only to be virtually shunned. Why? Because chrysanthemums are (in the current floral language) symbols of death and mourning .... perfectly suitable for placing on tombs for All Saint's Day, but not to give to your host or hostess. Leçon learned the hard way!

But how did this symbolism come about? ... Is it culturally ancient or is it, like 'Mother's Day cards', something with a more modern, and perhaps rather more commercial, origin?


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 16 Mar 2015, 13:27; edited 5 times in total
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 13:02

Oh, what a lovely thread! Thank you, MM.

Got to go out now, but hope to contribute later - and nice short posts from me in future, no more porridge!
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 14:28

Just to explain a bit to those not familiar with it ... this is the listing as given in the official 'La Poste' calenders for this year:




...you get the idea ...

But bear in mind that if you Google in English:  "Language of Flowers",  you'll get a completely different list of flowers that nevertheless all still claim to represent your floral message and be, "the traditional emblem for your desires and hopes " ... bleuerrgh!

And I note there's no flower equated with cynicism! Wink

And yet, for all this modern venal gumpf, there surely must be a lot of ancient symbolism in certain flowers ... red roses for love, rosemary for rememberance, sage for wisdom, lillies for mourning....

No?
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1888
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 14:57

May I nominate cauliflower for cynicism?=
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 15:12

I love the old fashioned flowers, violets are for me,
Have them made in diamonds by the man at Tiffany


The divine Eartha, it doesn't get more cynical than that........
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 16:22

http://thelanguageofflowers.com/

Too many for me - I just know that petrol station flowers say (loud and clear) "I FORGOT"
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 18:35

Re the questions I asked over on the PITT thread, I have found this lovely, old-fashioned essay about flowers in Churches. It was written in 1898 and gives lots of interesting information.

http://www.elfinspell.com/England/Andrews/TheChurchTreasury/FlowersAndTheRitesOfTheChurch.html


Last edited by Temperance on Tue 17 Mar 2015, 03:20; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 16 Mar 2015, 19:09

From Wiki:

The term nosegay arose in fifteenth-century Middle English as a combination of nose and gay (the latter then meaning "ornament"). So a nosegay was an ornament that appeals to the nose or nostril.

The term tussie-mussie comes from the reign of Queen Victoria* (1837–1901), when the small bouquets became a popular fashion accessory. Typically, tussie-mussies include floral symbolism from the language of flowers, and therefore may be used to send a message to the recipient.


Actually, I think "tussy-mussy" was used long before the reign of Victoria. Its first recorded appearance was around the 15th century, when it was written as tussemose. In later centuries the spelling settled down to tussy-mussy. I'm sure I've come across it in 16th century literature, but I can't for the life of me remember where. Will try and find it.

EDIT: "You have a fine tussie-mussie here, what is the new-fangled word for it - a "posy"? A word of naught, a chambermaid of a word - no reason, nor rhyme neither in misnaming flowers as poesie..."
Back to top Go down
Vizzer
Censura
avatar

Posts : 815
Join date : 2012-05-12

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Tue 17 Mar 2015, 10:13

Temperance wrote:
no more porridge!

The flower of the Wild Oat is said to signify a previously indecisive person who has finally found their calling in life.



They've sown their wild oats as it were and now one has flowered. It would be an appropriate logo for the child support agency perhaps.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Tue 17 Mar 2015, 12:07

Regarding the question of floral tributes at a funeral and on graves ...

I wonder if this did not arise out of the idea of offering a thing of fragile, transient, soon-to-fade beauty  ... like the dead person so being honoured/remembered, and who had perhaps been untimely "plucked" from this life. So in effect by placing fresh flowers on a coffin or tomb, one is making a small, perfect, offering to the Gods ..... like a little sacrifice.

Or perhaps more prosaically ... were fresh floral blooms - or as per the Roman tradition, freshly-cut resinous conifer branches, especially cypress - placed around the dead principally in an attempt to mask the initial smells of decay? The body was garlanded with flowers and greenery, just to try and give an extra day or so for friends and family to come and pay their last respects ... before the smell made the funeral imperative?
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Tue 17 Mar 2015, 14:42

MM wrote:

I wonder if this did not arise out of the idea of offering a thing of fragile, transient, soon-to-fade beauty  ... like the dead person so being honoured/remembered, and who had perhaps been untimely "plucked" from this life. So in effect by placing fresh flowers on a coffin or tomb, one is making a small, perfect, offering to the Gods ..... like a little sacrifice.


That's really poetic, MM.


Some interesting info here about "Plants and Death":


http://www.history.co.uk/study-topics/history-of-death/death-rituals-and-superstitions


Plants and Death

Plants have been associated with the burial of the dead since at least the 16th Century. In the medieval period placing flowers on graves may have been problematic as the vicar or curate was often allowed to graze his animals in the churchyard. In the South of England disturbances resulting from this were sometimes guarded against through constructing wicker or willow fences around the grave. However people started objecting to anything that might damage or disturb the grave, especially in the wake of new ideas about reverence to the dead in order to protect expensive monuments such as gravestones which were becoming increasingly fashionable.

Strewing flowers on graves has been noted in sources as early as the 1770s*. However in many areas of England this practice was considered heathen and was banned in some churchyards right up until late in the 19th Century. An exception to this can be found in Wales where flowers were often planted on top of graves to symbolise the time of life in which a person died. Daffodils, primroses and violets would be planted over infants, roses for those who died in mid life, and rosemary for those who died in old age.



So the strewing of flowers on graves was seen as "pagan" and was banned in some parishes until "late in the 19th century"? That does surprise me - I had imagined that it would have been only during the Protectorate that flowers were banned.  


On a lighter note and not to do with flowers, I had to smile - and shudder - at the following taken from the above link:


During the 18th and 19th centuries there developed a morbid fear of being buried alive, which lead to the invention of various devices which would hopefully alert people to the fact. These included the safety coffin, where a bell was placed on top of the grave. One end of a rope was fixed to the bell and the other end placed in the hand of the deceased. If the poor unfortunate soul found themselves not to be dead after all they could ring the alarm.

PS Re Viz's quote from my message - I deleted the porridge reference - along with all the "porridge" of two great chunks of quotes.

EDIT: But I have now added two longish quotes to this message. What the heck. In a hundred years' time, who's going to care? Indeed by next Tuesday (if not earlier) who's going to care?

EDIT 2: *Surely much earlier than 1770s? I've already mentioned flowers and Ophelia's grave - Gertrude's speech from Hamlet Act V - see PITT thread.


Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 18 Mar 2015, 08:20

The picture I posted above is Ophelia making her famous "garlands" speech after the death of her father. The article - see link given below - gives some explanations of what the mention of various plants would have signified for Shakespeare's audience:


http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Study-flowers-in-Ophelia-s-garland-to-learn-folk-2542041.php


"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts," said Ophelia to her brother Laertes. "There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died."

William Shakespeare mentioned more than 200 species of plants in his plays. Twenty-nine scenes take place in groomed gardens and well-tended orchards. Plants, and plant lore, were important sources of metaphors for Shakespeare. Often, as in Ophelia's "garland speech," plants served as extended metaphors for the human condition.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 18 Mar 2015, 09:47

During the 18th and 19th centuries there developed a morbid fear of being buried alive, which lead to the invention of various devices which would hopefully alert people to the fact. These included the safety coffin, where a bell was placed on top of the grave. One end of a rope was fixed to the bell and the other end placed in the hand of the deceased. If the poor unfortunate soul found themselves not to be dead after all they could ring the alarm.

A fear that may not have entirely disappeared, there's even instructions on what to do in that situation.
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/so-youve-been-buried-alive

Mght be a bit creepy though if there's a call from beyond.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/family-shocked-to-receive-text-messages-from-dead-grandmothers-mobile-phone-9800539.html

Sorry, digression over.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 20 Mar 2015, 14:23

Just been watching the famous Globe production of 12th Night. The music is beautiful - this particular play is full of songs.  Feste the Clown  sings, among others, this poignant one:

Come Away, Come Away, Death
(Twelfth Night)

Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath,
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
O prepare it;
My part of death, no one so true,
did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse where my bones shall be thrown:
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, oh, where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there.
Back to top Go down
Triceratops
Censura
avatar

Posts : 3026
Join date : 2012-01-05

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 20 Mar 2015, 15:27

In a similar sort of vein, from the Western ballad The Streets of Laredo;

"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall.
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Roses to deaden the clods as they fall."
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 09:35

That's a really interesting metre Shakespeare is using in that lyric, Temp. The third last and last lines in each verse are the opposite to what one expects in English rhyming poetry of that or any other period where accentual-syllabic feet prevail. It is almost impossible to recite them audibly without a fading exhalation, which of course matches the mood and the theme perfectly. Those who extol the modern enslavement to blank verse should all take note. There is a reason poems rhyme and why we are drawn to rhythm - in the hands of a craftsman it subsumes us, be it through poetry or song.

On the subject of the language of flowers, and our modern tendency to fail to appreciate just how strongly symbolic they were to our ancestors, there are still some examples whose symbolism is strong and clear enough to excite the same response within our jaundiced senses as in those of the most impressionable Roman or Greek of ancient times. This little lad, for example, the Orchis Italica, has always meant just one thing:

Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 09:59

It is indeed a lovely bit of writing, but is it Shakespeare's? Or was it a popular ballad of the time? A question for MM there, I think.

No time to google this morning: the Arden edition of 12th Night will give the answer, but of course I can't find my copy at the moment.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 11:36

Not many flowers here - but was it really by Anne Boleyn or not?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQfN7AyAGlo
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 11:41

But lots of tulips here - well, one singing at least ...

Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 11:59

But of course I had to check about the authorship of Feste's song, didn't I? Couldn't let it go.

Like everything in this world it is disputed: in "Shakespeare and Elizabethan Popular Culture: Arden Critical Companion" , the following info is given:

Feste, whose profession is that of domestic minstrel, does not sing real popular songs for his masters, but imitations of them (as far as we know)..." (my emphasis).

However, elsewhere it says that Feste's "When That I Was and a Little Tiny Boy" was a popular ballad and that the first song sung by him, “O Mistress Mine” (Act II scene iii, lines 40-45, 49-53), was “found in Morley’s Consort Lessons, printed in 1599, that is, before the probable date of Twelfth Night”.


I like this one - its metre is interesting - like something by Skelton. Possibly written by Robert Armin (the first Feste) himself:


I Am Gone, Sir.

I am gone, sir.
And anon, sir,
I'll be with you again,
In a trice,
Like to the old Vice,
Your need to sustain.
Who with dagger of lath,
In his rage and his wrath,
Cries "Ah ha" to the devil.
Like a mad lad,
"Pare thy nails, dad."
Adieu, good man devil.

EDIT: Two posts as I was typing; about Terry Wogan and Anne Boleyn. Gil, I'm sure it was hers. Isn't it beautiful? Like her brother, Anne was very musical and she was very interested in the composition of "ballets" - i.e. ballads (not ballet as in jumping about or balancing on one leg - although she was a good dancer too.)

EDIT 2: Strayed a bit from OP - sorry, MM, but I don't suppose you'll mind.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:08

I've also been Googling on your behalf, Temp, and found nothing to suggest that Willy shouldn't get the credit for Feste's song. Its theme and mood (love and mortality and the link between both) echoes many of his sonnets, and the addition of unrequitedness gives it a genius twist even if he did use an existing ballad as inspiration. Of course that's not to say that Essex didn't write it either (he definitely had a Christmas Number One with "A Winter's Tale" so he must be considered a candidate).

I did uncover a long-standing dispute over whether the phrase "Fly away, death" should more accurately be rendered "Fie away, death". Both have been used in presenting the play right back to its original publication. On the basis of my extensive research (20 minutes on Google) I am with the latter - "fie away" in Elizabethan English was to leave in ignominy - and reckon that particular interpretation adds yet another genius dimension to Feste's song.

Strange that I'm the one sticking up for Willy Wobble-Weapon here. Normally I'm with Statler up in the box seats at the Globe in these cases.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:13

PS Re effect of music and lyrics of Come Away Death - Orsino's famous opening lines are relevant:

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!


I expect Shakespeare and Armin worked together on it.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:15

Crossed posts. Thanks for serious info, nordmann. My research was rather more extensive - thirty mins. Smile
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:27

I'm glad you brought violets into it, Temp, and it rather neatly returns the thread to MM's intentions, I think. In literature they have a very long pedigree of rather continuous symbolism - being emblematic (rather brilliantly) of both "the love of truth" and "the truth of love". They have also been long associated with grief for a loved one's death, especially when it must be secretly or furtively expressed. The grave of Nero, for example, was decorated with violets on the anniversary of his death by those who - despite orders to the contrary - wished to venerate him. Right up to the 19th century they were also the flower of choice for those who wished to anonymously leave a token on a grave.

They therefore represented the most selfless and pure form of constancy in human emotion. Shakespeare (that man again) knew this when he had Ophelia pine for he father, singing "I would give some violets, but they withered all when my father died: they say he made a good end." Tragic, and even more so if you're in tune with the symbolism that would have been common knowledge to him and his audiences.

But there I go sticking up for the lad again. At least I can't stand accused of being a daisy in Ophelia's eyes (though disconcertingly she might well have considered me a pansy - a member of the violet family of course, but considered an inferior one and therefore in Elizabethan times a symbol of faithfulness).
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:32

Temperance wrote:

That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!


He knew his flowers our Will ... the scent of sweet violets, Viola odorata, while powerfully strong, often has an unusually fleeting aspect: one initially gets a huge waft of lovely smell, but then it fades away, and if one didn't know the smell was of violets it would be difficult to track down the culprits. The transient nature of the scent of violets isn't due to the flowers themselves but to our own sense of smell. One of the chemicals that contributes to the violet's fragrance is ionine, which has the effect of temporarily deadening the smell receptors that detect it, only for them to recover after a few seconds before being deadened again ... thus violets truely are, "stealing and giving odour".
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:33

A quality shared by both truth and love. Brilliant stuff!
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:47

Going back briefly to Feste's song "Come away, death" ... while the original music is unknown there is a song , "Hearts-ease", recorded in Dowland's collection of lute pieces. The tune fits Shakespeare's lyrics to "Come away, death" very well, and it's in a suitably sombre G minor key.

And hearts-ease is of course a common name for the wild pansy, Viola tricolor, ... which as Nordmann says is a member of the violet family and with a similar fleeting sweet fragrance.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:52; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5681
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:52

Pliny recommended a paste made from violets for treating gout, MM. In particular the sweet violet "Viola Odorata". Might be worth a shot?
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 21 Mar 2015, 13:13

Nordmann wrote:

Pliny recommended a paste made from violets for treating gout...

... I've found that avoiding red wine for Lent has been suitably efficacious.... although not exactly fun.

But about the subtle, psychosomatic healing effects of violets, John Gerard, the 16th century herbalist wrote:

"... the blacke or purple Violets, or March Violets of the Garden, ... have a great prerogotive aboue others, nor onely because the minde conceiueth a certaine pleasure and recreation by smelling and handling of these most odiferous flowers, but also for that very many by these Violets receiue ornament and comely grace: for there be made of them Garlands for the heade, nosegaies and poesies, which are delightfull to looke on and pleasant to smell to, speaking nothing of their appropriate vertues: yea Gardens themselves receiue by these the greatest ornament of all, chiefest beautie, and most gallant grace; and the recreation of the minde which is taken hereby, cannot be but verie good and honest: for they admonish & stir vp a man to that which is comely & honest."

'The Herball', 1597

So not only might violets cure my gout but they might even make me comely and honest!
I can manage honest, but comely is unlikely ... or as Eliza Doolittle the violet-seller in Shaw's, 'Pygmalion', simply says:  "Garn!".
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sun 19 Apr 2015, 15:36

Temperance wrote:
The picture I posted above is Ophelia making her famous "garlands" speech after the death of her father. The article - see link given below - gives some explanations of what the mention of various plants would have signified for Shakespeare's audience:


http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Study-flowers-in-Ophelia-s-garland-to-learn-folk-2542041.php


"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts," said Ophelia to her brother Laertes. "There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died."

William Shakespeare mentioned more than 200 species of plants in his plays. Twenty-nine scenes take place in groomed gardens and well-tended orchards. Plants, and plant lore, were important sources of metaphors for Shakespeare. Often, as in Ophelia's "garland speech," plants served as extended metaphors for the human condition.

I meant to mention this ages ago when you posted that, Temp ...

All the flowers mentioned by Shakespeare's Ophelia are faithfully depicted in Millais' painting 'Ophelia', plus he added a blood red poppy (not mentioned by WS) as the symbol of sleep and death.



Incidentally Millais painted 'Ophelia' over a period of some 11 months from a small hut next to the Hogsmill River in Ewell, Surrey ... at a place about 500 yards from where I used to live. The river is still there and not much changed, although these days there is the occasional abandoned shopping trolley alongside the trailing fronds of water plants.

Apparently he originally depicted a small water vole padding alongside Ophelia, but he painted it out after showing the unfinished painting to some relatives of fellow artist William Holman Hunt. As his diary recorded:
"Hunt's uncle and aunt came, both of whom understood most gratifyingly every object except my water rat. The male relation, when invited to guess at it, eagerly pronounced it to be a hare. Perceiving by our smiles that he had made a mistake, a rabbit was then hazarded. After which I have a faint recollection of a dog or cat being mentioned."

And so Ratty now only exists in a preliminary sketch.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 20 Apr 2015, 10:00; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : water vole not water mole)
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 5296
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 20 Apr 2015, 09:27

I like the Ratty story, MM. Wish he was still in the picture.

I'm sure someone, somewhere, will have done a version showing the Tesco trolley upstream.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 20 Apr 2015, 09:45

And further to the 'What is Art?' thread .... the model for Millais' Ophelia, 19 year old Elizabeth Siddal, was another who had to pose for weeks in an uncomfortable position. She had to lie fully clothed in a full bathtub in his studio. As it was winter, Millais placed oil lamps under the tub to warm the water, but tended to get so wrapped up in his work that he often allowed them to go out. As a result, Siddal caught a severe cold, and her father later sent Millais a letter demanding £50 for medical expenses!
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Mon 20 Apr 2015, 17:48

Plenty of herbs and flowers in 'The Winter's Tale' too. In Act 4 Perdita, (who Florizel flattering refers to as "Flora, the Queen of Flowers"), imagining the flowers she would make into garlands to give to her friends, says:

"Here's flowres for you:
Hot Lauender, Mints, Sauory, Mariorum,
The Mary-gold, that goes to bed with' Sun,
And with him rises, weeping: These are flowres
Of middle summer, and I thinke they are giuen
To men of middle age .....
 

..... I would I had some Flowres o'th Spring, that might
Become your time of day: and yours, and yours,
That weare vpon your Virgin-branches yet
Your Maiden-heads growing: O Proserpina,
For the Flowres now, that (frighted) thou let'st fall
From Dysses Waggon: Daffadils

That come before the Swallow dares, and take
The windes of March with beauty: Violets (dim,
But sweeter then the lids of Iuno's eyes,
Or Cytherea's breath) pale Prime-roses,
That dye vnmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phoebus in his strength (a Maladie
Most incident to Maids:) bold Oxlips, and
The Crowne Imperiall: Lillies of all kinds,
(The Flowre-de-Luce being one.) O, these I lacke,
To make you Garlands of) and my sweet friend,
To strew him o're, and ore."


Flowre-de-Luce ie Fleur-de-lys, is the common marsh iris ... It was a symbol of lost love and of virginity since young girls were led into the afterlife by the Greek goddess Iris. It was also of course in Shakespeare's time the symbol of the French monarchy as well of the Florentine Republic and the Medicis.

Crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) is a flower native to the middle east but was brought to Europe as an ornamental during the crusades.  It has been naturalized in parts of central Europe for many centuries (where it is known as "Kaiser's Crown") which is interesting bearing in mind the play is set partly in Bohemia.
 
And a few lines earlier Perdita also mentions "Gillyvors" which I think would be the gillyflower as it was known in the 17th century, from the French giroflée, meaning "clove-smelling" and which then denoted the clove-scented pink Dianthus caryophyllus, although nowadays in French une giroflée usually refers to the common wallflower Erysimum sp, which also smells of cloves. Perdita refers to "streaked gillyvors" scathingly as "bastards" meaning that they have been cross-bred (I assume she/WS meant cross-pollinated, either naturally or by human agency, although she tends to use the term "grafted"). She has quite a discussion with Polixenes about the relative virtues of "pure bred" and "cross bred" plants, which characteristically in WS style hides several deeper layers of meaning ... art versus nature, whether a noble should marry a shepardess, pedigrees, illegitimacy, and the natural order of society, things masquerading as what they are not, even painted flowers as an allusion for painted ladies ie prostitutes, etc. etc ... I've found several extensive and erudite essays about this on the web. All fascinating stuff but far too much to copy here.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Thu 23 Apr 2015, 11:06

Today is of course St George’s Day, or in Catalan La Diada de Sant Jordi , St George being the patron saint of Catalonia. It’s a public holiday in Spanish Catalonia, and though not an official holiday here on the French side of the Pyrénées, many businesses are closed and the same traditions are observed.

St George’s Day is a bit like St Valentine’s Day in that the custom is for lovers to exchange gifts … specifically a rose to a woman and a book to a man. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when an enterprising Barcelona bookseller started to promote the holiday by commemorating the nearly simultaneous deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare on 23 April 1616. The idea has since been taken up by UNESCO who in 1995 adopted 23 April as World Book Day.

Red roses were a traditional symbol of St George, the blood of Christ, and of love, but I see from the local newspaper that nowadays many different-coloured roses can be given … each colour having a subtle message:

Red roses are still the most common and are given to lovers as they symbolizes passion and love.
Mauve roses are given to close friends since they symbolize trust.
Pink roses are given to thank someone for an important favour, or simply to express gratitude for their friendship, as they symbolize tenderness and kindness.
Purple roses symbolize nobilty and femininity, and thus are a good choice to give to women who one respects without wanting to declare a passionate love – one’s mother perhaps.
White roses symbolize purity and innocence, and are often given to express the desire of having a long relationship of pure innocent love. If given to someone who is ill you are showing that you care and wish them future health.
Yellow roses symbolize joy and happiness, and thus they are often given to one’s children.
.... but very dark red or dark purple roses, so-called black roses, should never be given as of course they symbolize death.

But whatever the colour it’s all good news for rose growers and book sellers … there are makeshift rose stands and book stalls all over the place and apparently by the end of the day some five million roses and half a million books will have been sold throughout the region.
Back to top Go down
Vizzer
Censura
avatar

Posts : 815
Join date : 2012-05-12

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Thu 23 Apr 2015, 19:55

Interesting points there Meles. One tends to forget that there is a French Catalonia as well as a Spanish one. It's a bit like the Basque Country, I suppose, the higher profile is south of the Pyrenees.

I was aware of the flowers and books thing in Barcelona on St George's Day but hadn't appreciated that flowers went to women and books to men. I had just imagined that gifts were given to loved ones of flowers and/or books. Interesting also that the flowers are specifically roses. Again I was unaware of this detail. Mrs Vizzer has said she would like to go back to Barcelona - so maybe we'll plan a trip there for next April.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 02 May 2015, 09:36

Yesterday May Day, May 1st, was International Workers’ Day. In France, as la Fête de Travail, it was a national holiday – and actually the only national holiday enshrined in law as the right of every citizen (exceptions made of course for the emergency services and those that work in hospitals, air traffic control, and nuclear power plants etc. )

It was also the day when it is traditional to give family and friends little sprigs of muguet. … that is les lys de vallées, lily-of-the-valley, as a symbol of good luck, joy, and happiness (bonheur). Lily-of-the-valley is a long established symbol for spring, and the imminent arrival of summer, and as such they are linked to the ancient Celtic celebration of Beltane, (which was also yesterday if one follows modern calenders).



But in France the universal giving of lily-of-the-valley to friends and family derives from 1561, when the French Dauphin, the future Charles IX, gave lily-of-the-valley to all the ladies at court. It's current association with Workers Day however really only goes back to the early years of the 20th century when the May Day holiday was only just becoming enshrined in law. Some company owners, principally those of sweatshops in the garments trade based in Paris, having accepted the requirement for a mandatory day’s paid holiday, started to build upon this by giving each worker (which in their businesses were mostly women and child labourers) – a small posy of muguet as a symbolic gift. Even nowadays the sale of muguet on this one day is exempt from all tax. Hence the numerous impromptu flower stalls at the side of roads throughout France.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 02 May 2015, 14:49

Bloomin horrible weed in Senior Monster's garden - been digging up & potting up the stuff by the trugful. Found a patch of hostas in the middle of it - might try to sell some.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Sat 02 May 2015, 16:11

Well yes, it can be tenaciously invasive if it gets established in places with suitable conditions (moist and shady under trees)  .... probably one reason why its collection from the wild was officially sancioned by right of 'custom', and more practically, by tax breaks.

It smells nice though.  Wink
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 06 May 2015, 11:28

When I worked as a legal secretary a client presented one of the solicitors with a bouquet of flowers as appreciation for the work he had done on said client's divorce.  The next day I passed a building site and noticed a dandelion so plucked it and gave it to the same solicitor "as a token of my appreciation" (he was one who could take a joke).  Although one of my other colleagues said it wasn't a dandelion it was a coltsfoot.

There used to be a Yardley "Lily of the Valley" scent I seem to remember (sorry if it's already been mentioned - I have looked at the thread above but sometimes I miss bits unintentionally.

It's globe hyacinths I find invasive in my garden.  Don't know if they have any significance in the 'say it with flowers' tradition.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 06 May 2015, 12:51

Would globe hyacinth be the same plant as grape hyacinth, or as it's known to horticulturists, muscari (though I think bulb-growers use the name muscari for several other closely related plants too).

It is indeed quite invasive ... but as its preference seems to be to invade lawns, it's not really much of a problem since it just about finishes flowering when it's time to do the first grass cut of the year (say about mid March) and it's no real hardship to leave the last few clumps unmown for a couple of weeks. It used to do very well in my tiny bit of lawn when I lived near Epsom, Surrey (probably having escaped from pots or borders), and here in southern France I certainly can't complain as the appropriately named Muscari neglectum, is a native wild flower, that does indeed thrive if only just left alone:
 
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 06 May 2015, 17:19

You are quite right, Meles Meles.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  I did indeed mean the grape hyacinth.  I was getting it confused with the globe artichoke which is a totally different plant.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Wed 06 May 2015, 19:00

Globe artichokes are in season just now, LiR.  They're an important commercial crop here on the rich alluvial soils of the floodplains closer to the coast (50km away). I've just bought a clump/bunch (six heads) from the village shop for only 2.50€ the lot - supper for tonight - yum.  Although I admit they look like the vegetable version of a pangolin, they're still very tasty as well as being stuffed full of vitamins, minerals, anti-whatevers an' all that too!

Artichokes themselves don't seem to have that much history/anthology/mythology associated with them ... but there would be loads more if we considered them as thistles - which is of course what they basically are. So essentially they could be seen as a fundamental symbol of Scotland..... or at least the Auld Alliance: Scotland with a wee touch o' France, p'raps. And, despite their prickly outward appearance, they are still very handsome plants. They are "architecturally", very much like the acanthus plant  ... which of course in greceo/roman times was THE plant on which to model one's classic carved corinthian capitals.

PS:
At the village shop, as well as the artichokes, I also bought a punnet of local strawberries, for just 1.50€! They're small delicate, tasty little things, nothing like the bloated oversized, over-irrigated, tasteless, monsters one gets from Spain. And the "strig" always pulls out easily (unlike with the mass-produced Spanish/Israeli/Chiliean/whatever strawberries) ... just like I remember it always did when I was a child and we used to grow strawberries at home.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Thu 07 May 2015, 15:10

Don't make it sound too good MM or the green-eyed monster will manifest itself.  There are a couple of shops in my town (and some market stalls) that sell fresh produce at reasonable prices though I have to remember that one of the shops only takes cash and ensure I have sufficient when I call there - no card payments.
Back to top Go down
Nielsen
Consulatus
avatar

Posts : 297
Join date : 2011-12-31
Location : Denmark

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Thu 07 May 2015, 15:20

LiR,

Yesterday it was announced politically here that shops might elect the right to not take cash.

So far it seems to have gone up and away like a lead balloon, and personally I hope it shall rise like one.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Thu 07 May 2015, 16:25

Well, if a shop doesn't want my cash, I'll just have to shop elsewhere. If enough people do that, the penny will soon drop.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1103
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 08 May 2015, 08:44

I must try and remember the word 'strig', not one I knew.

LIR and MM, I don't mind the grape hyacinth either - it pops up in our border but disappears fairly soon.  The other plant that I am happy enough to see even though it tends to be invasive is forget-me-not and also the little pansy we have.  Either of these I pull or leave as I can be bothered and don't mind either way.  Pulling the forget-me-not out when they have seeded and gone a bit dead is not a job to do while wearing wool, though I never remember that until I come back in covered in the seeds. What I could do without are the various sorts of onion weed we have in our garden.  They have thousands of little bulbs at the base and often a second layer of them when you are congratulating yourself for getting the full set out. 

Ah well, at least we don't have convolvulous.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2841
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 08 May 2015, 11:04

Forget-me-not ... now there's a flower with an interesting background.

From wiki:

'In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name." Another legend tells when the Creator thought he had finished giving the flowers their colours, he heard one whisper "Forget me not!" There was nothing left but a very small amount of blue, but the forget-me-not was delighted to wear such a light blue shade.

Henry IV adopted the flower as his symbol during his exile in 1398, and retained the symbol upon his return to England the following year.

In 15th-century Germany, it was supposed that the wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers. Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted "forget me not". It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.

Margaret Freeman, who cites the use of forget-me-not as a token of steadfastness by several fifteenth-century German love poets, speculates that the color blue, associated with fidelity in the Middle Ages, may have contributed to the flower’s meaning.

Prior to becoming the tenth province of Canada in 1949, Newfoundland (then a separate British Dominion) used the forget-me-not as a symbol of remembrance of that nation's war dead. This practice is still in limited use today, though Newfoundlanders have adopted the Flanders Poppy as well.

Freemasons began using the flower in 1926 as a symbol well known in Germany as message not to forget the poor and desperate. Many other German charities were also using it at this time. In later years, by a handful of Masons, it was a means of recognition in place of the square and compass design. This was done across Nazi occupied Europe to avoid any danger of being singled out and persecuted. Today it is an interchangeable symbol with Freemasonry and some also use the forget-me-not to remember those Masons who were victimized by the Nazi regime. In English Freemasonry it is more commonly now worn to remember those that have died as a symbol that you may be gone but not forgotten.

The forget-me-not is used as the flower of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, which took place between 1915 and 1923. It is a prominent spring plant throughout Europe on the 24 April, which is the anniversary of the day the genocide began, and its name in many Indo-European languages conveys the same meaning of 'remember'. The Republic of Armenia issued an official illustration of the flower as a badge for the remembrance in preparation for the 2015 centenary.'
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 08 May 2015, 14:33

MM, your above post is really interesting although without giving away how I voted yesterday allusions to the colour blue are not my favourite allusion today - although I am feeling very "blue" in the sense of sad.

I may have mentioned this before on another thread, but the mention of Freemasons made me think of a time over 20 years ago when I was working with the wife of a former policeman who was two things (1) a convert to Catholicism (2) a member of a masons' ladies group.  Having had a Catholic upbringing at school I had to study (and I hated doing so) the catechism.  I seem to recall belonging to the freemasons was prescribed to Catholics (though probably the Freemasons might not have wanted 'em anyhow).  I didn't have the heart to mention that fact to the lady - though I guess technically being a mason's lady in not the same as being a mason.

With regard to what Nielsen and Gilgamesh have to say, I guess they are right, "voting with one's feet" is a way to inform a shop that they if they don't want one's custom, then they need not have it.  I wonder how the right for a shop to refuse cash payments will work out in Nielsen's country - in the UK the then Powers-that-Be backed down on plans to scrap cheque payments a few years ago.
Back to top Go down
Nielsen
Consulatus
avatar

Posts : 297
Join date : 2011-12-31
Location : Denmark

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 08 May 2015, 15:14

LiR,

So far it's been announced as a 'might' which is being hit upon, as we are about to go into electioneering mood here.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The language of flowers   Fri 08 May 2015, 20:58

I wonder about the USA - don't their currency bills say something like "Legal for all debts public and private"? Do you think a shop there would get away with refusing them? Or the UK, where the currency has a status of "legal tender". Surely either system would require a change of law to allow "No cash please, we're British" to be introduced?
Back to top Go down
 

The language of flowers

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 2Go to page : 1, 2  Next

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Customs, traditions, etiquette and ethics-