The symbolism of flowers has a long history. Victorians spoke in the language of flowers—each flower had its own meaning and shades of meaning. Shakespearean audiences also picked up on a floral insults. After her father’s death, Ophelia passes out flowers to King and Queen. She hands the King columbine for faithlessness, deceit and adultery. For Queen Gertrude, she gives rue for regret and, again, adultery. Rue also was used to induce miscarriage. Since Hamlet had killed Ophelia’s father, Ophelia may have added an additional insult with the rue. After posting this last night, I came across this poem by Jenny Molberg, “In Which Ophelia Opens the Box of Hamlet’s Drawings.” Love it!
For this prompt, design a bouquet for your ex, a frenemy, or an outright enemy. Read Camille T. Dungy’s “Daisy Cutter” as a guide. If you wish, use this chart that discuses the flowers in Hamlet to learn about flower meanings. Feel free to add well-known poisonous plants and flowers to your bouquet. Or, if you prefer, create your own meanings with your flower choices. White carnation, for me, symbolizes early death, mourning and loss of hope.
If you are a kinder person than I am, create a bouquet for a loved one. Again fee free to use the chart or other list or create your own associations. For poems on flowers and their meanings, read Kaveh Akbar’s “Orchilds are Sprouting From the Floorboards,” Cynthia Zarin’s “Flowers” (this poem about a bouquet given to her), Nate Marshall’s “picking flowers,” and Cindy Veach’s “Rose of Jericho.”