Welcome back to Flower Poetry Fridays with Mrs. Sigourney. Each Friday a new poem will be posted from her The Voice Of Flowers.
HE TOLD HIS LOVE IN FLOWERS.
I’LL tell thee a story, friend,
Here, under this shady tree ;
If thou ‘lt keep it close in thy faithful breast,
I’ll whisper the whole to thee
I had a lover once,
In my early, sunny hours ;
A fair and fanciful youth was he,
And he told his love in flowers.
I remember its waking sigh ;—
We roam’d in a verdant spot,
And he cull’d for me a cluster bright
Of the purple "Forget me not."
But I was a giddy girl,
So I toss’d it soon away,
Gathering the dandelion buds,
And the wild-grape’s gadding spray.
He mark’d their blended hues
With sad, reproachful eye—
For one was the symbol of thoughtless mirth,
And one of coquetry.
Yet he would not be baffled thus—
So he brought for my chrystal vase
The Rose-geranium’s tender bloom,
And the blushing Hawthorn’s grace.
And a brilliant and fresh bouquet
Of the rich Moss-rose he bore,
Whose eloquent buds with dew-drops pearl’d,
Were full of the heart’s deep lore.
I could not refuse the gift,
Though I knew the spell it wove ;—
But I gave him back a snow-white bud :
" Too young—too young to love."
Then he proffer’d a myrtle wreath,
With damask roses fair,
And took the liberty—only think !
To bind it round my hair.
And he prest in my yielding hand
The Everlasting Pea,
Whose questioning lip of perfume breath’d,
" Oh, say, wilt thou go with me?"
Yet we were but children still,
And our love, tho’ it seem’d so sweet,
Was well express’d by the types it bore,
For it pass’d away as fleet.
Tho’ he brought me the Laurel leaf,
That changes but to die,
And the Primrose pale, and Amaranth,
Yet what did it signify ?
For over his vaunted love
Suspicion’s mood had power—
So I put a French Marigold in his hat,
That gaudy and jealous flower.
But his rootless passion shrank,
Like Jonah’s gourd, away,
‘Till the cold Chrysanthemum best reveal’d
The blight of its quick decay.
And he sail’d o’er the faithless sea
To a brighter clime than ours :—
So it faded away, that fickle love,
Like its alphabet of flowers.
In 1848 Mrs. Sigourney was writing in a time when you had to entertain yourself, so people often looked toward their natural surroundings for a little inspiration.
Flowers seem to have been very important at this time. Every flower was imparted with some quality or meaning. The meanings of flowers were well understood, so giving a flower to someone was more than a simple gesture.
For instance, the young man was saddened because she tossed away his forget-me-nots. Doing that was as if she tossed him to the side along with that floral symbol of his admiration and love for her.
He showed his feelings through flowers. He gave her beautiful blooms of rose-geranium, hawthorne, moss-rose and many others to show the depth of his feelings for her. When she did not return his feelings, the young love faded away like a spent blossom.
Forget-me-not, dandelion, wild grape, myrtle, damask rose, everlasting pea, laurel leaf, primrose, amaranth, French marigold, and chrysanthemum were the other flowers mentioned in this poem. What meanings do you assign to any of these?
Come back next Friday for the next installment in our series of flower poems from Mrs. Sigourney’s The Voice of Flowers, “The Disobedient Pansy”.