Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Floriography in Poetry

It's Tuesday, and with it comes Open Link Night at D'Verse.  For today, I'd like to talk about an ancient and secret language.  Floriography is a secret language that saw prominence in the Victorian era as well as in Feudal Japan.  Primarily, pieces of the flower or flowers were cut and included within a correspondence.  The flowers could be sent alone as well.  The symbolic nature of each flower varies slightly, depending on the site you refer to, or as it was back then, individually to the giver and receiver.  The cipher would be understood, in either a widespread nature or intimately between a few.

A myriad of illegal activity existed in the backrooms of legitimate businesses, where it was but a flower someplace apparent that would clue the seeker what was also going on inside.

Lovers would leave signals for each other, indicating when it was safe or dangerous to proceed.

Samurais would hold mementos, either between their armor or the likeness etched or painted upon it.

There are many, many variations of uses.  But what I can tell you definitively is that most, if not all of our symbolic references for flowers used today, grew in part, due to this secret language.  There are the obvious allusions that predate the coding of the language, but for the most part Floriography is what boosted these symbolic references into an understood nature.

Anyhow, a chart with one set of meanings is here.

Laurestine of

Scarlet lilies
Magnolias and Celandine

A Red Rose
Offered as Lavender


Agrimony felt
Bellflower’s bloom.

Perhaps, when I get some more time I'll try to simply include the picture of the flower.  I did try to do that now, but none of the images would load, so I guess I'll have to figure that aspect out, on how to use downloaded images.


  1. fascinating... beautiful piece, with all those flower names; was expecting some inkling as to what they meant in floriography. Next piece?

  2. I was telling Joy about a book I have on Tussie-Mussies: The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers; it’s where I got the picture I sent her for honoring a mentor that she so kindly posted in her sidebar. The book doesn’t have all the flowers you used but most of them and the link you provided made this a joy to assemble. I thought I’d leave some of the additional meanings I found the flowers could have for those that may enjoy it: Iris: message, eloquence, promise, ardor, flame; Laurestine: token of affection, thoughts of heaven; Acanthus: the Arts; Lily, scarlet: high-souled; Magnolia: sweetness, beauty, perseverance; Celandine: joys to come; Rose, red: I love you, passion, desire, beauty, victory, harmony, joy, charm, luck; Lavender: devotion, success, happiness, ardent attachment; Arbutus: You’re the only one that I love; Ambrosia: love is reciprocated; Agrimony: thankfulness; Bellflower: constancy, aspiring, thinking of you. In our modern age we’ve lost so much of our connection to symbolism, whether in art, floriography, mythology, or ritual and we are poorer for it. Thank you for bringing our attention to this language which offers such rich rewards, truly wonderful Fred.

  3. i love the idea of leaving flower messages and just thinking about which flower i would leave you now for a poem i much enjoyed..think a sunflower would be just perfect..smiles..enjoyed this fred

  4. uke, thanks, glad you enjoyed this piece. I probably should have made it a bit more obvious and clear, but the word here, before the poem is actually a hyper-link to a wiki that does give a set of meanings for the flora. I do plan on eventually doing some more of these, as not only are they fun to work in, but the thing that separates the language of flowers from other coded languages is the visual aspect that accompanies it, and unfortunately I was unable to load the pics as I wanted to do.

    Anna, thank, really glad you enjoyed this piece. I completely agree that our age seems to be in a decline in this regard, perhaps for the very reason of technology, which is fitting as I sit here typing this out on a computer-lol, but much of the things that added a sense of adventure, intellect and just plain fun has seemed to evaporate with the years. I really appreciate the compliment of being the flag bearer, which is neat, as I really only want to share what I enjoy. I liken it with a tiny tale, that actually just happened today, where my little niece has learned about the on/off switch on her spinning hippo toy. So she'll go "yah" while pointing at you, eager to share her new talent, as she then proceeds to laugh and giggle as the music from the toy goes on and off repeatedly. Fun. That's really what it's all about, fun and creativity. To be in the company of those terms, is amazing. And I also have a few books that touch upon floriography, not the one you mentioned though, but most of what you have listed is contained similarly. I chose the wiki as it was an easy source for a universal audience. I actually really like the clarity in some of your books definition, really adds another element to the cipher:) Thanks

    Claudia, really glad you enjoyed the piece. Sunflower would be accepted graciously, big compliment, thanks:)

  5. nice fred...what a cool way of communicating through flower...i would love to hear more on it...and might just have to go find it myself, but...well penned verse...

  6. As any true die hard romantics, we would all love this idea. I think it is so romantic and also quite furtive in nature too. A lovely idea. And great piece from you too.

  7. I do like the idea of flowers having meaning for both the giver and receiver. I even read a story about this, how two people communicated during the olden times with flowers.

    And I did note that you follow Everyday Amazing...ha..ha...I thank you for the compliment.

  8. Okay, I had to decipher this...

    Iris Good news
    Laurestine of A token
    Acanthus Art

    Scarlet lilies High-souled aspirations
    Magnolias and Celandine Love of nature Joys to come

    A Red Rose True love
    Offered as Lavender Devotion, distrust

    Arbetus "You're the only one I love"
    Ambrosia Love is reciprocated

    Agrimony felt Thankfulness
    Bellflower’s bloom. "Thinking of you"

    I'm impressed. didn't know much of this stuff. thanks for the lesson,
    and a wonderfully artsy way to do a piece.

  9. This is very cool. I used the link to decipher being quite unfamiliar with the symbols / concepts by which different flowers represent. Flowers express with such color.

    On side thought, this has set me to thinking what other things one can use to write poems like this. I've seen such done with gemstones (one of Anna's recent works) and there's one with trees/garden plants (also by a dVerse poet I think, either Hedgewitch or Victoria).

  10. I also wrote a poem that revolved around the language of flowers as symbols, the one where Anna sent me her lovely picture of a tussie mussie. It fascinates me. I used that identical table--you've gone a step further here and made it the code it sometimes was used for as your intro points out--really cool, Fred. Anna's extra definitions just give it another layer. If you haven't read mine, it's much less cheerful than yours--surprise! :P But I agree completely that fun is a good, good thing.

  11. Very interesting. The names SOUND so beautiful. I did not catch all the meanings, but had a sense of incantation nonetheless. K.

  12. Learned something new and another great verse for the dVerse crew. Communication through flower would not work with those with four legs though, they'd just eat it and off they'd go..haha

  13. The poem is elegant and the backstory intriguing. I want to come back and read more about this, Fred. Thanks for the "lesson."

  14. This is excellent Fred, outstanding experimentation, interesting and unique and just damn right cool

  15. I love it even without the decoding; the words are so mellifluous and so sweetly juxtaposed.