#355: Ophelia Was Really On To Something



There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it herb-grace o’Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.

Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5 

Kate Greenaway’s The Language of Flowers is a stupendous compendium of names of flowers and their symbolic association. Who knew? But when I read today’s Napowrimo prompt, after having recently finished a study of Hamlet with my seniors, the last piece of curriculum I will ever share with them, I thought of Ophelia. Ophelia’s flower speech is above, and then my little offering (#11) follows.

Ophelia Was Really On To Something

I don’t know shit
about flowers.
I like to look at them
and I like to smell them
but don’t ask me to
name them.
I am told that,
not only do
flowers have names,
but meaning, too.
When Ophelia says,
here’s rosemary,
that’s for remembrance,
she’s not kidding.
And she’s dead serious
when she says,
here’s some pansies,
that’s for thoughts.
And when she says,
here’s fennel, columbines,
and rue, watch out!
She’s not messing around.
And did you know
that violets wither
when our fathers die?
A daisy is a poor
substitute, but in
these times of trouble
it will have to do.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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