I love to say, “I love flowers because they are beautiful.” It sounds too simple, naïve & almost silly to express my feelings toward them with such a generic expression, but I have no hesitation for saying that because this nothing sentence says all I want to say about them. I know an adjective such as “beautiful” has been overused & abused to describe anything “beautiful”. But even so, I love to claim my love toward flowers saying, “I love them because they are beautiful.”
They are beautiful because they are mute. They are beautiful because they are selfless. They are beautiful because they demand nothing. They are beautiful because they are ephemeral. Oh, I shouldn’t forget, they are beautiful because of their colors, forms & fragrance. They are our teachers: a reminder of the mystery of our Cosmic Existence in this unknown Universe. Where do they come from? Who made them? They are extraordinarily beautiful because we don’t know the answers.
II. Flowers & Artists
It’s natural that artists love to paint flowers. Their colors & forms are too majestic & complicatedly inviting not to attract them. There are so many flower paintings done all through history, east, west, south & north. Some flowers painted by some artists have become symbols & emblems of their lives.
Vincent & sunflowers; Monet & water lilies, they are one & the same, you can not separate the subject from the artist. The same kind of inseparable association happens whenever I see a blood red gladiolus, I can’t stop thinking of Soutine. The same with Mondrian & a stem of pale chrysanthemum. A vase full of seasonal flowers; a field of wild flowers, they are just too delicious for artists not to eat them with their eyes. Once I had the pleasure of being able to visit Monet’s garden in Giverny. It was literally a palette of colors; a feast of the earthly delight.
III. Flowers & Literature
There is also a very special intimate relationship between flowers & writers, especially poets through history all over the world. In Japan, flowers are always a big part of its literary consciousness from the beginning of time. Waka & Haiku are full of flowers. If you open Kigo-Jiten, a Season Words dictionary of Haiku, you will find an overwhelming amount of words relating to flowers of all seasons. My favorite flower/writer relationships are that of Basho & a wild violet; Dazai & an evening primrose; Soseki & a field poppy. Even in the west, there are so many exquisite flower writings. Shakespeare & his love of flowers, and how can I forget Goethe’s “Wild Roses” & Rimbaud’s “What is said to the poet concerning flowers”? What about Mallarme’s “The White Water-Lily”? Flowers give different inspirations to poets & writers; something more internal & psychological to stimulate their mind/hearts.
IV. Flowers & Music
Interestingly, there is not too much music composed on the theme of flowers, although there is a plenty of lovely music set to lovely flower- related lyrics, making many lovely songs. Composers in general are not that interested in flowers. & I wonder why.
V. Flowers I Saw Today
Today I encountered so many flowers as I breathed through a calm May late afternoon in the city. Flowers in community gardens I passed by; a small vase with a few stems of flowers whose name I don’t know on some café table; an array of flowers waiting to be sold & bought at the deli store fronts; flowers printed on women & girls’ dresses; painted flowers on some book cover… But the one I felt the strongest connection with was a lily of the valley I saw behind the cast iron gate of some private property in the deepening dusk. Tiny white dots were like bell-shaped pearls in the darkening green. The gate separated us, so I could not get close to enjoy their fragrance. Instead of being annoyed by the inaccessibility, I let myself roam to the memory of the one I enjoyed last year in some park. Yes, again, the season is back. Yes, the earth has circled around the sun once more. Yes, again, I praise the grace of all the flowers blooming every season everywhere, telling everybody, “I love flowers…because…”