Pondering Pansies ~ What’s in a Name?

Romantic oil painting with chocolate, books, quill and sunflowers
(Enjoy More Romantic Artwork at Poetic Pastries Online Studio)

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.

Contact Us PIN Content Professional Share Facebook Share Instagram Views YouTube Views

~ Supper Is Ready – Missing My Nanny ~

Memories of my childhood days bring back the sharp pungent smell of river catfish, the earthy smell of sweet golden corn, the light buttery smell of mashed potatoes, the floury smell of homemade biscuits and the delicious aroma of fresh apples being stewed in sugar and cinnamon. Even though supper was not served until the sun started fading in the sky, my Nanny would start laboring in the kitchen long before. Continue reading “~ Supper Is Ready – Missing My Nanny ~”

~ Happy Valentine’s Day ~

Valentines DayFree yourself from the chains that bind you. Release the fear that holds you captive. Do not be afraid to love and be loved. Don’t lay blame – but then again don’t hold back. Speak your mind. Or perhaps, whisper your thoughts. The fear (or comfortableness) of communicating between male and females in relationships is the number one reason small problems become greater. We leave them unattended, but they do not die. They fester and grow. They become beasts, devouring what we hold most dear.

The majority of men are hardwired to achieve. Success at all costs (mostly). Duct-tape, remote, damn the torpedoes, kind of mentality, a modern take of the hunter gatherer of long ago. He is the protector. And what then of us? The femme blossoms of his life? We are the nurturers. The sweeteners of the provisions brought to our safe abode. We waltz about creating a cold hardened shell into a home. Yearning for the brush of a cheek, a warm smile, a gentle pause in the chaotic but beautiful dance of life. We yearn, yes, but do we stop long enough for of these to happen? Does he see your pause?  Or, are you continuing to dance alone? Perhaps, before the music of life begins anew, on this Valentine’s Day-put your loved one on your “dance” card”.  Together make the commitment – to be unafraid of love.

(*these represent my unprofessional, awake 3am, living on dark chocolate and iced tea opinions-no formal, medical or otherwise relevant say as i do implications should be taken. as a muse i just pulled out my ink and quill and this is what poured out-accept it with a smile, as it was intended)

* This is a NO COMMENTS REQUIRED Blog Journal Entry

designed for reader’s/ subscriber’s/follower’s privacy and Muse’s work requirements.

Pansylee VanMeteren Illustrator, Author, Poet, Songwriter Lyricst, Artist of WV - The Muse - Poetic Pastries

Muse Blog Journal Signature Banner

Private Feedback & Questions may be entered here .

~ Butterfly Kisses – A Gentle Poem by Muse ~

Butterfly Kisses by Muse~Butterfly Kisses~
~
Aged imperfection ~
Stitched upon my face…
Years and years ~ Of wisdom…
Earned by Holy Grace.
Quiet solitude ~In a humble home…
All the family scattered ~
Like nomads ~ Do they roam.
Then a gift ~
Sent from above…
A memory ~Pure and tangible…
Wrapped in innocence ~And unquestioning love.
A butterfly kiss ~
Lands gently upon my cheek…
From an unseen child ~
A kiss most sweet…
Heaven grants grace ~ And tears follow…
As youth revisits ~This tired empty hollow.
~
(muse from book Enigmatic Evolution)

Pansylee VanMeteren Illustrator, Author, Poet, Songwriter Lyricst, Artist of WV - The Muse - Poetic Pastries

Pansylee VanMeteren Illustrator, Author, Poet, Songwriter Lyricst, Artist of WV - The Muse - Poetic Pastries - ©™Official Blog Post Signature Banner for Muse of Poetic Pastries - Pansylee VanMeteren

Subscribe to Poetic Pastries Blog Journal Feed Share this post with your Facebook followers Pin this post image to your board Send the world a Tweet about this post Image HTML map generator

The “pastry” social icons above are for sharing this content; please credit Poetic Pastries.

* This is a NO COMMENTS REQUIRED Blog Journal Entry

designed for reader’s/ subscriber’s/follower’s privacy and Muse’s work requirements.

Private Feedback & Questions may be entered here .

LaTricia Lindley, Lizzy Denner, Daryl Roberts and 22 others like this.
Comments courtesy fb feed history
Cris McDonald Shewchuk

Cris McDonald Shewchuk This poem describes exactly what I was feeling last night while watching Toy Story 3. It made me cry as I remembered so many things. My son going off the college. The children giving away their toys as they grew too old for them. The teddy bears that gave so much love and comfort being adopted by someone else. And just life in general…how it changes through the years. Muse, if you haven’t seen this movie, it is worth seeing.

Lynne Chi Chi Horridge

Lynne Chi Chi Horridge Love it

Shelly Nugent Lampshire

Shelly Nugent Lampshire As sweet as it gets. This is how I want to leave this earth. I secretly hope this child gains a spiritual guide.

Raquel Amaral

Raquel Amaral what a precious gift a butterfly kiss!

Rose Piedad
Rose Piedad oh beautiful! I love it Muse (“,)
“All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.See More
Pat Rundell Harris

Pat Rundell Harris I think this is my favorite.

Elizabeth Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter This is another one of my favorites in your book that is sitting in my living room on the table!!!

Pat Thomas

Pat Thomas truly Beautiful !!!

I Am The Muse
I Am The Muse Thank you everyone, so very much. All of us have felt the tenderness of a child’s Butterfly Kiss…
It is the purity of love expressed in it’s most delicate form. An innocence to be guarded and protected…and most treasured.
Tammy McCain

Tammy McCain sweet memories…..nothing can stir the soul more deeply!

Mandy White

Mandy White Beautiful! It gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside, on a day when I really needed it. Thanks Muse! Sharing…

 

~ Supper Is Ready – Penning Fact ~

Memories of my childhood days bring back the sharp pungent smell of river catfish, the earthy smell of sweet golden corn, the light buttery smell of mashed potatoes, the floury smell of homemade biscuits and the delicious aroma of fresh apples being stewed in sugar and cinnamon. Even though supper was not served until the sun started fading in the sky, my Nanny would start laboring in the kitchen long before. Continue reading “~ Supper Is Ready – Penning Fact ~”