Gathering magnolia while I may …


Magnolia at its best. It’s not a flower that looks particularly lovely in decay. Su Leslie 2018

The title of this post was inspired by the line “gather ye rosebuds while ye may”.

It’s one of those quotes I’ve heard often but never thought much about. But in the interests of fair and accurate acknowledgement of the work of authors I quote, I bring you the poem To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick; first published in 1648.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

I can’t say I agree with “… that age is best which is the first …”

ZimmerBitch grew out of a firm belief that I’ve improved with age (certainly in terms of my own happiness). But Herrick was writing at a time when average life expectancy was around 35; where around a third of all babies born died in infancy or childhood. Women’s lives were constrained by lack of education and legal rights; marriage was an expectation, and for most, an economic necessity.

So to young women now I’d say, of course seize the day, but don’t be persuaded that only rosebuds have value.

Unlike magnolia — which really do have very short lives.


Image: Su Leslie 2018

And PS: don’t be ashamed of your thorns — you are allowed to protect yourself against all predators.

A rather longer and more digressive post than usual for Friday Flowers.

Happy weekend everyone.


Regular Random: five minutes with a magnolia branch

Close up shot of half-open white magnolia flower against out of focus background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Magnolia flower. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The magnolia tree in our garden has been slow to flower this year. For what seems like forever, tender buds have sat proudly upright, refusing to spread their velvety white petals.

Last week, a few flowers broke ranks, and by this morning it seems that many of the others have relented.

Given the brief moment of flowering, magnolias seem a perfect subject for this week’s #regularrandom.

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.