February seems a good time to think about flowers. Where I live, they grow all the time, but in the north you can now only find them at the florist's. Browning, missing England from India, wrote about delicate, polite buttercups, calling them "Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!" But I kind of have a thing for gaudy, at least when it comes to flowers.
Here's part of Mona Van Duyn's poem "A Bouquet of Zinnias."
A "high prole" flower, says Fussell's book on American
class, the aristocrat wouldn't touch them, says Cooper
on class in England. So unguardedly, unthriftily,
do they open up and show themselves that subtlety,
rarity, nuance, are almost put to shame.
In any careless combination they delight.
Pure peach-cheek beside the red of a boiled beet
by the perky scarlet of a cardinal by flamingo pink
by sunsink orange by yellow from a hundred buttercups
by bleached linen white. Any random armful
of the world, one comes to feel, would fit together.
You can read the whole poem here
. It has lots more about how great zinnias are, how "tough" and "stubborn" they are, and about the poet's grandmother, who had "big, clumsy-looking hands."
I wrote a poem myself about daffodils and their lack of subtlety. Here it is:
The daffodils take a risk each year
As they burst out in all their gaudy glory.
It would make much more sense
To wait underground a little longer.
After all, it's probably going to snow again.
And even if it doesn't
They aren't going to be around more than a few weeks.
Still, the daffodils don't seem to mind.
They are yellow but fearless.
They don't try to tone themselves down,
To dress in brown or some more practical color,
To camouflage their joy just in case,
To kill time until they are sure the weather will be favorable.
Instead, they are simply beautiful while they can be.
If daffodils think of the future at all
It's a long-term one,
The resurrection of next spring
When the dead bulbs,
Rooted and established in the earth,
Will come to life again
And again, freely,
Careless of their own safety or dignity,
They will give themselves away.
by Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
Here's to unsubtle, "high prole" flowers. I love them all. I love how bright and happy they are, the splashes of color they provide. I love the way they can get away with wild combinations that I'd never dare to wear. They inspire me to be who I am, without worrying so much about what people think.
And speaking of flowers, today's Poetry Friday roundup is at The Iris Chronicles.
Photo credit: Matsu