Monday, 28 April 2014

How To Fall In Love With A Flower

"Do you know a novel where someone falls in love with a flower?"
Husband, sitting with me on our balcony, blinks with his eyes. "Sorry?" "I asked: do you know..."
"I understood that well - but that's a strange question. No. No, I don't know any," says the literary scholar. "Why?" 
As I am too embarrassed to confess the real reason, I mumble: "Well, I have found two already. And if we count the Blue Flower of the Romantic Period, as it is presented in 'Heinrich von Ofterdingen' by Novalis, I have even three. Or, thinking of Tulipmania: four." 
Of course there are many definitions of 'Love'.
Passionate love: it exists defenitely also concerning flowers - think of Carolus Clusius, who started in Vienna to cultivate tulips since 1574 - and then the Tulipomania broke loose.
You might argue that this is not real love but only the attempt to get something into one's possession, (and later using tulips only as a sort of share to maximise wealth and thus leading to the big crash in 1637).
But what is love? I've seen people 'loving' others just that way - jealous people who wanted to "keep" their love, thus suffocating them, taking away the air by overprotecting their loved one, giving no chance of development - but love grows only in freedom, that is what I believe.
Beside crushes like Tulipomania there are the examples in literature.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry shows us the impressive love of 'The Little Prince' for his rose on his tiny planet. (A lot of people will turn their eyes up: yes, yes, I know the quote of "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly" is overused, but in the taming of the fox we get a wonderful explanation what love is.

"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hu ndred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."
"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
"Please-- tame me!" he said.
"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."
"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more . If you want a friend, tame me..."
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me-- like that-- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day..."
The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you... One must observe the proper rites..."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--
"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:
"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."
The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."
And the roses were very much embarassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you-- the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

I took this wonderful translation from 
Now, this post is too long already. I'll tell you of the other examples next times: Colette and Novalis, (which I have to translate on my own).
And if you found others: I'm deeply interested!


  1. This post is so lovely and so interesting!!
    I know another story( just one) where someone falls in love with a flower or flowers. Dazai Osamu (Japanese author) wrote a short novel titled "The Chrysanthemum Spirit" . It's a loose adaptation of an old Chinese folk tale. A stubborn man who has a great passion for growing chrysanthemums comes across a mysterious brother and sister combination on his way back home....... I think the man definitely fell in love with the mums. The English version of this novel is in "Blue Bamboo"which was first published by Kodansha USA. You can find it here:

    I've read in a book (sorry. I forgot the title of it) that The Rose in The Little Prince was inspired by Saint-Exupéry's wife, Consuelo. How interesting!!

    1. PS

      The pink rose is really beautiful!! Did you take the photo with your new camera?

    2. Dear Sapphire,
      thank you for this wonderful tip on Dazai Osamu! In the time of the Kindle I was able to buy the book with one click - and now I'm looking forward to read not only 'The Chrysanthemum Spirit', but am also curious what is 'Alt Heidelberg' about.
      I did not know that Consuelo was the role model for the rose - I always thought: the rose is so very much like a woman, pretending to need protection and being feeble, though deep down she knows quite well that she can exist on her own - as she also tells the Little Prince in the hour of departure. I mean: she has three thorns :-) - and as she says so wisely: one has to endure a few caterpillars to see a butterfly :-)
      The photo of the pink rose, Augusta Luise, (she smells oh so lovely!) was taken last year on my balcony with my old little Lumix.
      I am very content with the new one: so lightweight - and clear.

  2. Falling in love with beauty is wonderful
    We should all applaud it

  3. Dear John,
    yes with all my heart!

  4. For me I never truly loved any flower until I had grown it and tended to it in my own garden, the first year I always molly coddle them but I then allow them to grow and to do what it is that they want to do and grow in the direction in which they desire. Such is the success of many a relationship... although a little pruning may sometimes be necessary;)

  5. Oh dear Paul,
    that's superb! And allow me to borrow the wonderful word "mollycoddle".
    Like you I think it is important to be tender, grow trust and confidence, and allow freedom. I have a book by Richard Briers, called "A Little Light Weeding", and yes, this too is somethimes necessary, but only to show the innert beauty, not to force my image/concept on something/one I love.

  6. Yes! I love The Little Prince, especially the story about the fox. Much of life is explained in that passage.

    1. I just discovered your answer today (sorry - I was too much on my main blog) - and yes: it is a beautiful passage.

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  8. A lovely story. I must say that your header picture is so beautiful. I can actually breathe in and smell that lovely rose.

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