Various Positions

This is not a review of the biography of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen

It’s a little plucking from “Flowers Talk in Languages of All Races”

From Jackson Daily News 1930

reproduced in Eudora Welty Early Escapades

The expression of flowers is varied by changing their positions. “Place a marigold on the head,” says the etiquette book, “and it signifies ‘mental anguish;’ on the bosom, ‘indifference.'”


The flower custom in the nineteenth century stared out to be a contest. Now it remains only a commercialized custom — beautiful none the less, of course, but the really coy feature of it, the repartee between the sexes, has been thrown over to other pursuits like the straw vote polling on prohibition.

An old article breatheing new meaning to the phrase “say it with flowers” and invites one to invest some time to pour over some old sources:

Floriography – the language of flowers – had gained popularity during the Victorian era to the extent that it had become a complex means of coded communications. Using particular blooms or even just their scents, Victorians were able to convey emotions that the strictures of the time made impossible to speak about openly. Thus, if a man sent the target of his affections a red chrysanthemum (meaning ‘I love you’) he would be hoping to receive in return perhaps a Jerusalem Oak (‘Your love is reciprocated’) and not a striped carnation (a symbol of refusal). It all got so complicated that floriography dictionaries were published allowing flustered romantics to check the meaning of the latest delivery – is that a chickweed (‘I cling to thee’) or a burdock (‘Touch me not’)?

I do like that term: floriography.

And so for day 2736

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