Monday, June 15, 2009

Peony Power

My peony is flowering. It looks stunning in our front garden. Today I shall cut a few and put them in a vase in our kitchen.Here's a poem about this gorgeous flower that I thought you might enjoy.


Carman, Bliss, (1861 - 1929)
Arnoldus Villanova
Six hundred years ago
Said Peonies have magic,
And I believe it so.

There stands his learned dictum
Which any boy may read,
But he who learns the secret
Will be made wise indeed.

Astrologer and doctor
In the science of his day,
Have we so far outstripped him?
What more is there to say?
His medieval Latin
Records the truth for us,
Which I translate--virtutem
Habet occultam--thus:

She hath a deep-hid virtue
No other flower hath.
When summer comes rejoicing
A-down my garden path,
In opulence of color,
In robe of satin sheen,
She casts o'er all the hours
Her sorcery serene.

A subtile, heartening fragrance
Comes piercing the warm hush,
And from the greening woodland
I hear the first wild thrush.
They move my heart to pity
For all the vanished years,
With ecstasy of longing
And tenderness of tears.

By many names we call her,--
Pale exquisite Aurore,
Luxuriant Gismonda
Or sunny Couronne d'Or.
What matter,--Grandiflora,
A queen in some proud book,
Or sweet familiar Piny
With her old-fashioned look?

The crowding Apple blossoms
Above the orchard wall;
The Moonflower in August
When eerie nights befall;
Chrysanthemum in autumn,
Whose pageantries appear
With mystery and silence
To deck the dying year;

And many a mystic flower
Of the wildwood I have known,
But Pionia Arnoldi
Hath a transport all her own.
For Peony, my Peony,
Hath strength to make me whole,--
She gives her heart of beauty
For the healing of my soul.

Arnoldus Villanova,
Though earth is growing old,
As long as life has longing
Your guess at truth will hold.
Still works the hidden power
After a thousand springs,--
The medicine for heartache
That lurks in lovely things.

Poem is in the public domain..

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