My name is derived from my Nanny (grandmother) who, (the story goes) on Easter Sunday, was born dead. It is told that her father, my great-grandfather, had a little bouquet of ‘pansy’ flowers in his hands he had picked from the garden, expecting this day to be joyous. Upon hearing this grievous news, he sullenly laid the tiny bouquet atop his daughter’s tiny chest. The moment the flowers touched her…she gasped for air and began to wail. She was promptly named ‘Pansy’ (to think/to ponder). Along with that mantle, my father added “Lee”. This name, means shelter in the storm. ‘Pansylee’ ~ (muse)
‘Pansies’, as a flower are quite remarkable. Did you know the entirety of the flower is edible? It is true, sepals and all (stem to stern). Bakers, candy makers and chefs are quite fond of using ‘pansies’, which offer a culinary paradox: being both muted and minty in flavor.The petulant language of flowers is remarkably traditional in nature rather than scientific. The wives’ tales, the historical and religious overtones of flowers abound in every society and culture. Here are few;
Victorians ~ A honeyflower and a ‘pansy’ left by a lover for his beloved means “I am thinking of our forbidden love”, (I shall discreetly note here that the honeyflower is a erect bushy shrub of eastern Australia, whose flowers produce copious amounts of nectar. This plant was grown in hothouses/conservatories/arboretums in the Victorian age with…vigor)
The name “pansy” is derived from the French word pensée, “thought”, and was imported into Late Middle English as a name of Viola in the mid-15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance. The name “love in idleness” was meant to imply the image of a lover who has little or no other employment than to think of her beloved.
The name “heart’s-ease” came from St. Euphrasia, whose name in Greek signifies cheerfulness of mind. The woman, who refused marriage and took the veil, was considered a pattern of humility, hence the name “humble violet”.McGlashan, James. The Dublin University Magazine: A Literary and Political Journal. Vol. 42. July to December 1853: 286.
Writer James Shirley Hibberd wrote that the French custom of giving a bride a bouquet of ‘pansies’ (ponderings/thoughts) and marigolds (cares) symbolized the woes of domestic life rather than marital bliss, in 1858. I disagree. I believe the flower combination was meant to signify the endurance of matrimonial bliss, by ushering in a unified gentle thought or gentle caring of the bride to groom and vice versa. For shame on Mr Hibberd for being so pessimistic ~ (I also want to note that this bouquet combination is also ‘edible’…and dates back to 15th century. Perhaps something very important in early centuries, where sustenance was difficult to obtain).
The French and English were not the only ones to acknowledge the beauty and power of the ‘pansy’. An old German fable spins the yarn of how the ‘pansy’ lost its aromatic perfume. The story advises us that once upon a time, ‘pansies’ were indeed very fragrant. Abundantly growing wild in fields and forests, they permeated the countryside with sweetness. Such was the desire to obtain the botanical cologne, the German people would trample the tender green grass in eagerness to pick pansies. Overtime, the grass turned brown and could not withstand the barrage. In turn, the cows of Germany began to starve. The ‘pansies’ in their soft repose and gentle thought, prayed to the heavens, to take away their sweet perfume. The powers granted this prayer. And the people of the land, no longer lured to the velvet potpourri, made no vast treks wherein the grass was trampled to oblivion. This selfless act allowed the cattle to once more find the tender green shoots, to grow fat and keep the Germanic peoples alive and blessed bountifully.
Even the American pioneers did not escape the rituals of flower usage. A handful of ‘pansies’ taken indoors at early spring was believed to have ensured the farm’s prosperity. Could it be that known for their tenacity to endure frost and snows, the ‘pansies’ gave these struggling frontiersmen hope of the new spring? We can only guess. It has also been recorded that American settler children, as well as American Indian youngsters, saw faces within the flowers and constructed tiny bands of ‘pansy’ dolls (precursors to GI Joe and Barbie), old sketches show these primitive toys, formed with leaves, twigs and vines. Seeking to create beauty for themselves (as well as their male companions) the ingenuity of the femme sex in this new land, utilized the blessed bounty of their surroundings. Nature became their shopping plaza. Adornments of flowers, pine cones, shells and more are recorded as early Americana patisserie. ‘Pansies’ were pinned, poked, sewn to almost every facet of adult feminine clothing (these floral trims could last several days ~ more than long enough, I would suspect for any frontierswoman of the time…)
In literature, the ‘pansy’ has played starring roles. William Shakespeare’s work, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, offers the juice of the heart’s ease (the old Britannia term for ‘pansy’) as a love potion. “on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.” Shakespeare continued to add ‘pansies’ into his creations. The tale of Hamlet has Ophelia distributing ‘pansies’ ~ “There’s pansies, that’s for thoughts” (writers and poets seem to be drawn to the pondering face of the velvet botanical maiden….).
Many poets through the years, have placed the diminutive flower within their lines; Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 -13 January 1599 author of The Faerie Queene), Michael Drayton (c. 1563 – December 23, 1631), Ben Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637), William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850 famous for launching the ‘Romantic Age’ of poetic literature), Bernard Barton (c. 1784 – 1849 The Quaker Poet), William Wakefield (c. 1801 – 19 September 1848), and J. J. Grandville (1803-1847 Pensée from Fleurs Animées).
The epic qualities of the botanical ‘pansy’ have and continue to be intertwined with its deeper meaning. This ponderous nature entices not only poets. It was Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist, who left us contemplating his unfinished creation, aptly named “Pansie, a Fragment”(1864) whose story has a character of kindness and thoughtfulness, a young child…aptly named.
No topic of the word ‘pansy’ would be complete without paying tribute to the renown authoress Margaret Mitchell. She originally chose the name ‘Pansy’ O’Hara as the name for her Gone with the Wind heroine, but, historical documents show she was prompted by her publicist to make changes. He also urged her to seek another name for the homestead of her heroine. Ms Mitchell succumbed to both requests. The plantation’s name, was originally called ‘Fontenoy’ (it should be noted both ‘Pansy’ O’Hara and ‘Fontenoy’ have ties to French and Irish terminology). It has long been my personal opinion, that Ms Mitchell saw her heroine as a thinker, a planner, a ponderer, (and who today can deny that ‘Scarlett O’Hara was indeed that?) thus, the name ‘Pansy’ seemed quite appropriate. Of course, O’Hara is quintessentially Irish. This French application of the name ‘Pansy’ also falls in line with the use of the name ‘Fontenoy’ for the plantation. Fontenoy is the location of the epic battle where the French, aided by Irish foot soldiers, defeated the British regiments in 1745. Deciding upon ‘Tara’ as the final name for the plantation, directly refers to a village in eastern Ireland, northwest of Dublin. Tara was the seat of Irish kings from ancient times until the sixth century. Quite appropriate for the spectacular O’Hara home of the epic novel.
This woven fabric of Irish and French lineage names, continued, even though Ms Mitchell made changes. I can picture the publicist reading her work and lamenting that this strong willed, shrewd, and powerful heroine was being called ‘Pansy’…his mind, I daresay conjured up rows of flowery, velveteen faces, buttery soft and erroneously weak. For him this character was not pensive, or thoughtful. He must have seen her only as fire and brimstone, a true stereo-typical Irish lass, who could only be named for the red sparks she threw about… ‘Scarlett’, (old French origin meaning “red”). It is important to remember that ‘Scarlett’ and ‘Pansy’ are the same. They represent, in name, the characteristics of one individual. I am her, she is me, we are one … the Muse and I. She is a paradox – she is all and she is null. She is that part of me that exists to create and explore. Her artistic and literary entreats whisper to me; pondering pansies among the stars.
Pansylee VanMeteren – Artist’s Bio
Note: these kind words below were penned by Earl M. Coleman
(poetic friend and mentor-1916-2009-you are truly missed)
Biography for Muse, Pansylee VanMeteren of Poetic Pastries ~ WV poet, lyricist, author and artist, who creates under the nom de plume, The Muse (Muse), daughter of a deceased American naval officer, she currently resides in the South Branch Valley of WV United States.
Early in her career, Muse engaged her skills for technical purposes, such as document translation and schematic visualizations for government entities. She continued to write and paint poetically, in secret, using her pen name, Muse. An inner compass is evident in her work. Pieces reflect both past and present dilemmas; while showcasing her victories in overcoming these obstacles ~ all from her faith based perspective. Light touches of modernism play hand in hand with old world strokes, offering highly visceral readings. In 2010, a genesis compilation of Muse, Enigmatic Evolution, gave rise to her poetic voice.
Muse’s creations are predominately lyrical often resulting in poetic sonnets and fairytale like art. Lengths of work vary from simple and compact poetry to elaborately complex pieces. Thematically her writing pattern engages an autobiographical subtext. Structurally the Muse’s works involve a blend of poetry and prose. Elegantly fluid sentence formation creates an often old world environment. Highly figurative language is used extensively throughout her work. The paintings and drawings of Muse waltz hand in hand with her own words. The children’s story ~ The Little Sprout, offers up a prime sample of this blending.
A paradox of a woman, her hands are calloused and reverent. They have painted canvases, molded clay, charted geo-spatial trajectories, engineered software, washed puppies, and scrubbed floors. They have wiped away tears and folded in prayer. They have fired missiles and cradled babies. She is known to be gaming wordsmith offering her readers in social media brain teasers and poetic ponderings. The Muse proudly claims a kaleidoscopic ancestry of Irish, English, Scottish, French, German and American Indian. Since her youth, she has been fluent in several languages. An avid bibliophile and logophile, The Muse continues her passion by immersing herself in the written word of various genres. She adores word games especially Scrabble.
A self proclaimed lover of life, The Muse, celebrates by inspiring those around her. She is married to her first love; is a mother, and a nanny (grand-mother). The Muse resides with her family on an American Heritage Farm, which has been in their family for over 200 years. Her poetic and artistic ingenuity flows from the inspirational South Branch Valley of WV.
So WHO is Muse?
I am a vintage creation enjoying the winter of my life (some might call me old … although I prefer to say ‘seasoned’). My friends call me Muse. Like the mythological muses, my interests are varied; each day becomes an opportunity to greet life with gusto! The style of Poetic Pastries cannot be pegged exactly ~ most people have come to call it simply Musey-ness ~ a term I welcome warmly. This website has been created to spread a little artistic, confectionery joy to others; my quill and brush thank you for visiting ~ Pansylee VanMeteren (aka: Muse)
My work consists of designs licensed to international manufacturing companies and are available as print on demand art with a myriad of product options. Illustration, design, as well as poetry, become ingredients in my imaginative kitchen. Specializing in creating graphics for unique gifts, home decor, holiday accessories, greeting cards and apparel, Poetic Pastries is a visionary bakery offering ‘Sweet Treats for Mind and Soul’.
As a military veteran, I embrace ‘art therapy’ for wounded warriors; offering workshops for my fellow brothers and sisters who wore the uniform. Classes are held through online forums and in conjunction with nationally recognized groups; DAV (Disabled American Veterans), WWP (Wounded Warrior Project) and the VA (United States Veteran’s Administration).
Each review the Studio receives presents an opportunity for growth, along with a chance to build a connection of trust. Over the years, Poetic Pastries clientele have become more than simply “repeat customers” ~ a tether has developed, friendships have bloomed. Loyalty of brand, enchantment of style and an expectation of being whimsically nourished through the many designs and illustrations of Muse are all measures of what the Studio calls ‘Success Souffle’.