Posted in Everyday, Writing

The Language of Flowers

For the last few weeks, I’ve been posting poems that are tied to flowers, part of the self-entitled Language of Flowers series. These are poems that I wrote back in high school, as part of a project for my creative writing class. We were each given a piece of writing by a famous poet or writer and we were told to take one word from the piece and research its etymological sources, and then we were to create a piece (or pieces) of writing of our own based on where our research led us.

I was given “Blue Roses” by Rudyard Kipling. The word I focused on was posies. I used to think that a posy was a type of flower, mostly because of the nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosy” which states that the pockets were full of posies. However, as I discovered in my research, a posy is not a flower but in fact another word for a bouquet of flowers (another word for bouquet, as I found out, was nosegay, which actually ended up being a useful tidbit of knowledge for me to store away, as nosegay has come up in a lot of the novels I had to read in university).

In my course of research I came across the notion of the Language of Flowers, which is essentially what started it all. I discovered that the Language of Flowers was a coded system used during the Victorian period as a means of communicating what otherwise couldn’t be said allowed through bouquets, or posies, of flowers. Every flower has a special meaning, and depending on what flowers you add to your bouquet, you could be sending a message of love or one of lost faith, or whatever else you wanted.

I found this idea to be quite interesting and I latched onto it rather tightly, deciding to use it not only as the concept for my poems of that writing project, but in many other instances of my writing as well. I loved the idea of being able to send a message that perhaps not everyone would catch the meaning of directly even if looking right at the posy, or the poem.

For that project, then, I decided to create a posy of poems. Each poem was given a central flower as its focus, with backup flowers to enhance the overall meaning, and every poem would also incorporate the word posy. The poems could be read as individual pieces, or in a specific order to tell a larger story. Each poem was printed out, and I drew the main flower around the poem, then I rolled them all up separately, and tied them together with some tissue to create my poetic posy. It ended up being a really fun project to work on.

I left two of the poems out of my posts, because frankly, they’re not very good, but the other four remain as they were written for the project.

Here’s the list of the flowers I used and their appointed meanings, based in the Language of Flowers:

The Eglantine Rose’s Lament

  • Eglantine rose: A wound to heal
  • Acacia: Secret love
  • Primrose: Eternal love

Coriander Sins

  • Coriander: Lust
  • Lily (orange): Desire, passion
  • Hydrangea: Frigidness, heartlessness

The Black Rose March

  • Rose (black): Death, hatred, farewell, rejuvenation, or rebirth
  • Baby’s breath: Innocence, pure of heart
  • Bellflower: “Thinking of you”
  • Clover (white): “I promise”
  • Carnation (white): Sweet and lovely, pure love, innocence, faithfulness
  • Violet (blue): Faithfulness

Red Carnation’s Crying

  • Carnation (red): “My heart aches for you”, “Alas! For my poor heart”
  • Asphodel: “My regret follows you to the grave”
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