Thursday, February 7, 2008

A most amazing excerpt

In the aforementioned "Folklore of Plants" is found this excerpt that I want to remember long after I have returned, sorrowfully, this old book to the library. I am tempted to tell them that, umm, I lost it and pay the penalty.

"Speaking of the Victoria Gardens in Bombay, [Dr. George Birwood] says: A true Persian in flowing robes of blue, and on his head his sheep-skin hat -- black, glossy, curled, the fleece of Kara-Kal [sic] -- would saunter in, and stand and meditate over every flower he saw, and always as if half in vision. And when this vision was fulfilled and the ideal flower he was seeking found, he would spread his mat and sit before it until the setting of the sun, and then pray before it, and fold his mat again and go home.

"And the next night, and night after night, until that particular flower faded away, he would return to it, and bring his friends in ever-increasing troops to it, and sit and play the guitar or lute before it, and they would all together pray there, and after prayer still sit before it sipping sherbet, and talking the most hilarious and shocking scandal, late into the moonlight; and so again and again every evening until the flower died.

"Sometimes, by way of a grand finale, the whole company would suddenly rise before the flower and serenade it, together with an ode from Hafiz, and depart."

I hope that it does not detract from the stirring beauty of this story to point out that a "true Persian" would be an Iranian today. Perhaps this is a side of that ancient people that is largely unknown in the West.

4 comments:

Ela (braveheart) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trisia said...

It's so beautiful and cruel. To kill a flower with song.

The notion to choose something as sign of perfection, worship it and then slay it in the most exquisite manner strangely seemed to appeal to many ancient cultures. To me, it's a sign of decadence -- the way we as humans would misinterpret and change God's plan for humanity. We just love doing the worshipping on our own terms.

Eh, sorry for the rant.

Ela (braveheart) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eastcoastdweller said...

Trisia: No, unless their music was really, really horrible, I don't think they sacrificed the flower, just kept it company through its brief life.