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The Flowers Personified


Section 8

 
THE POET JACOBUS SUPPOSED HE HAD FOUND A SUBJECT FOR AN EPIC POEM.
I. The Flowers Converse

[1] [2] [3] [4]
[5] [6] [7] [8]

 

Jacobus passed the rest of the night in his arm-chair. He dreamed of being crowned in the capitol; that he was arrayed, as he marched, in flowing robes, and held in his hand a lyre of gold.

           The first person he saw, on awaking, was the Pansy, who greeted him with a smile. He told her what had happened to him, -- and wished to know whether he had been imposed upon by a dream, or whether flowers could really talk.

           “It is I,” said the Pansy, “who speak in them. Henceforth you will surpass every rival. The secrets which I have communicated, and which you were the first to know, will be a fruitful source of poetic inspiraton.”

           Jacobus kissed Pansy’s hand, and asked leave to read the notes which he had written during the night.

           But he had hardly finished the reading, when, crushing the manuscript in his hand, he threw it at Pansy’s head.

           “Wretched creature!” said he, “is it thus that you requite my hospitality? What would you have me do with the miserable stuff? It is, indeed, a flower-language which you have communicated to me; but it was invented more than a thousand years ago, in Persia, by an academician of Bagdad. Little children would laugh in my face, if I should repeat to them such nonsense. Know that we have altered this entirely. The flowers have now a different signification; and, to begin with yourself, let me tell you, that you are nothing but an old intrigante. Your name comes from paonsée,* solely on account of the resemblance which exists between your shape and colors, and those of the peacock.

*Paonsée, -- Untranslatable; derived from paon, a peacock.

 The literati discovered your true origin a long time ago. They are now employed in deciding to what flower belongs the right of representing that phenomenon of mind which we call thought. For the personification of that other intellectual faculty, which is called memory, we have the myosotis – a flower which all persons of intelligence call vergiss-mein-nicht.”*

          *Forget-me-not.

           The mother of Jacobus, attracted by the loud talking, and discovering what was the matter, prudently set aside the eggs, coffee, and cream, which she had prepared for the traveller’s breakfast. “My honey,” cried she, “you are trying to humbug us with your flower-language. You must take us for Picards or Percherons, when you come here with such stories. I perceive that you are merely an intriguer, whom we must drive away. But first, to show you that you cannot impose upon us so easily as you imagined, I shall tell you a short story. You are now, my son, to learn how it happened, that your father had the end of his nose frostbitten.”

After having coughed and spit, the mother of Jacobus commenced the flowing narrative: --

next: II. Where We Show That The Language of Flowers May Cause a Man To Lose The Tip of His Nose.