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Catharine Savage Brosman



      Gold flowers, says the etymon in Greek.
      But many rainbow colors nowadays
      evince invention, though the form’s antique:
      “disk florets,” pollened, and the showy “rays.”

      The plant, perfected long, has been renowned
      and loved for three millennia and more,
      its fanciers as yet not having found
      plump pompons, curling mops, to be a bore.

      In China, it was first a flowering herb,
      developed aptly, trained to play a part
      in festivals, symbolic and superb—
      one of “Four Gentlemen” in Asian art.

      The Japanese, in an encomium
      to beauty, borrowed it, put it on their seal,
      then named their monarchy “Chrysanthemum,”
      a moniker, to me, of rare appeal.

      “All these details! The essence can’t be there;
      no need to number petals, name each hue,
      explain the history, tell how, when, where
      chrysanthemums have grown,” they say. Quite true.

      Perhaps their essence lies in their perfume.
      Ah, yes! Described as “herby,” of the earth,
      unlike sweet floral odors. Or each bloom
      may illustrate its soul. Of course!—their worth

      is in the eye of the beholder. Or,
      in vegetable value: salads, tea.
      And in funereal purpose—tributes for
      one gone. They flavor wine. A browsing bee

      may gain immunity when it enjoys
      their presence. Once, they favored love’s young flame:
      corsages for the girls of yore, and boys
      who pinned them on lapels, before the game—

      a “festival” (the players were not paid)—
      or dinner at the Shamrock or the Rice,
      where elegance of dress was interlaid
      with intellect. The memory is twice

      as precious, now that one of us is dead.
      The essence of the flower lies in you,
      in us. It will be honored at my head
      by friends—its tousled image, its virtù.