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Death of A Flower

Most of us prefer tulips in a vase when they are closed or just partly open, rather than splayed outwards, wide open, just before the petals fall.

dying tulip

Photo: dejahthoris

Dying tulip

Many of us who love to grow tulips in our gardens have visiting deer who love to eat them. It seems to be such a violent death for a bud or flower.

The poet E. J.Scovell, when she wrote the following poem in 1991, must not have had deer in her garden because she describes a more gradual demise. Here are some excerpts of her poem:

I would, if I could, choose
Age, and die outwards as a tulip does;
Not as this iris drawing in, in-coiling
Its complex strange taut inflorescence, willing
Itself a bud again—though all achieved is
No more than a clenched sadness,
The tears of gum not flowing.

I would choose the tulip’s reckless way of going;
Whose petals answer light, altering by fractions
From closed to wide, from one through many perfections,
Till wrecked, flamboyant, strayed beyond recall,
Like flakes of fire they piecemeal fall.

Most of us prefer tulips in a vase when they are closed or just partly open, rather than splayed outwards, wide open, just before the petals fall. Though perhaps, opening wide, is their last defiant gesture of farewell.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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