The other day, I wrote a post which featured some clip art from Dover Publications http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/from-oostburg-to-christchurch-we-are-connected/. This beautiful painting of sweet peas was also included in my free clip art sampler. The painting is by the Belgian Painter and Botanist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, (1759-1840) who was nick named the “Raphael of flowers”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Joseph_Redout%C3%A9
In floriography, or the language of flowers, the sweet pea represents ‘delicate pleasures’. I am not sure what constitutes ‘delicate pleasures’, especially in Victorian terms when floriography was at its peak, but, as this interpretation comes from Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers, I shall assume it has an innocent and sweet meaning. Like a light kiss a mother might bestow on her child’s cheek, or a gentle, hand in hand, stroll with a loved one.
For me, the sweet peas are the sweetest of flowers. Some years I grow them in my garden.
They remind me of my grandfather, for the sweet pea was his favourite flower.
They remind me of my wedding day, when all I could find for a bouquet, in the arid setting of Botswana, was a handful of sweet peas; surprisingly, and almost miraculously, brought forth, rich in colour and scent, from a monochrome, dry earth. On that day, they were, indeed, a delicate pleasure, and a precious connection to loved ones far away.
Whilst pleasing my eye with the delicate, sweet pea painting, I wondered if I could find a poem to accompany it. And, of course, I could, with some help from Mr Google. Alfred Noyes wrote A Child’s Vision, which begins
“Under the sweet-peas I stood
And drew deep breaths, they smelt so good….”
The poem is a delightful view of sweet peas from a child’s perspective. It takes me back to my own childhood fascination with sweet peas (and snapdragons, too 🙂
Alfred Noyes was an English poet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Noyes Two of his better known poems are “The Highwayman” and “Daddy Fell into the Pond”. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/daddy-fell-into-the-pond/ He was born in 1880, on 16th September. Yes, that’s right, 16th September. Today is his birthday, or would be, if he were still alive.
Isn’t that a pleasurable and fortuitous discovery :)? Alfred Noyes lived for some of his life, in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, and died there in 1958. His final resting place was Freshwater, Isle of Wight. And that little piece of information, that Alfred Noyes’s home was on the Isle of Wight, afforded me a gentle, crinkle-cornered smile. Because, for some weeks, I have been on a voyage of discovery into my ancestry. I have been reaching out through the past and learning, little by little, about my great, great, great grandparents and their life on the Isle of Wight. It’s a fascinating journey, and, helping me to understand my ancestral home in its modern context, is my lovely, full of spirit, blogger friend, Bethan, at http://thehouseofbethan.com/. We have fun planning my imaginary trip “home”, and, now, thanks to my love of sweet peas, I can add Alfred Noyes’s home, Lisle Combe, to my list of places to visit. And, since I will be near Ventnor, I will also consider taking a peek at Keith Brewster’s prize-winning sweet peas, http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/gardening/sign-of-sweet-success-50269.aspx
All fun and fantasy aside, it has been a sweetly, delicate pleasure, today, to have one, sweet pea painting lead me, by its virtual tendrils, from my kitchen bench, in Christchurch, to the Isle of Wight; in which place I know there is a spot, a portion of soil, that is uniquely mine ; a piece of ground that knows my heart, and my footprint, because of those who have gone before me.
Now, if only I had been a Victorian, with an abundant supply of sweet peas, I could have reduced all these words in to a small posy . How much easier and sweeter for all of you, my kind, patient readers 🙂