I have always loved the sound of that word chrysanthemums. It has a very poetic feel, an almost romantic tinge to it. Even before I knew what a chrysanthemum actually looked like, I had conjured up this image of an exotic looking flower with a heady fragrance. A fragrance that wafted in through the open windows over sprawling gardens, where lovers whispered sweet nothings into each other’s ears.
I imagined young lovers admiring the delicate alluring beauty of this flower, its provocative fragrance sending them into a frenzy of poetic verses. Pretty young ladies blushing as the young lovers compared their beauty to that of the lovely chrysanthemums.
Alas! It was a common flower after all
The revelation, when it did strike, came as a disappointing shock! I realised this most exotic inspiration of a flower, to poets and lovers over centuries, was actually the ubiquitous little flower that I had all my young life been familiar with. It was just a common flower with a most familiar fragrance that hadn’t really inspired any poetry. Somehow, this most exotic sounding name just didn’t fit in with the flowers that bloomed all along my grandma’s pathway. The many childhood visits to her – she who lived in a little village in the back of beyond.
Still, the name ‘chrysanthemum’ retained its fascination for me. Common little flowers too could have exotic names I reckoned. Over the years, I read a lot on chrysanthemums and flowers in general. I discovered they belonged to a family of flowers called asteraceae. The more I read, the more excited I grew. I realised chrysanthemums or asters weren’t just to be found in those common pale-yellow shades that I was used to seeing on grandma’s pathway. They could also be found in glorious shades of violets, pinks and maroons.
A pretty little word, ‘chrysanthemum’ gave me an avocation
The name of one musical sounding word, ‘chrysanthemum’ enriched and guided me towards a lifelong fascination for flowers! Those wonderful living and breathing beauties–who smiled as the sun’s rays kissed them awake to produce a prism of delightful colours—held me captive.
Flowers make me happy; they delight and inspire me! And flowers led me on along a most delightful poetic path too. Somewhere along the way, I discovered the most precious gems of literature – Wordsworth and his daffodils, Burns and his red rose, Blake’s beautiful white lily and a plethora of other splendid lines. How could I ever forget Shelley’s immortal lines, “The flower that smiles to-day, to-morrow dies; all that we wish to stay, tempts and then flies”
We come back to where it all started, chrysanthemums
I reckon my fascination for the rather romantic name has stood me well and good. It helped me discover the beauty in life and fall in love with life itself. It led me to appreciate the brilliant colours around me and the myriad hues in nature. It helped me find joy! These beauties of nature aroused the poet in me, help me emote in words that flow so freely. Flowers help me break free! Flowers tell me the profound truth that nothing lasts forever.
Chrysanthemum, the pretty little flower. It sure is such a lovely name.