From Daffodil: The Remarkable Story of the World’s Most Popular Spring Flower by Noel Kingsbury and Jo Whitworth:
“The word ‘narcissus’ is linked inexorably with that of the beautiful boy Narcissus in Greek mythology, who was unaware of the intense love for him felt by the wood nymph Echo, who was cursed by being only able to repeat his last words. Eventually she pined away for him to such an extent that she became only a faint voice in the woods. As a revenge and punishment on Narcissus, Venus, the god of love, sent Cupid to cast a spell over him, so that he would fall in love with the first face he saw….
“What happened, of course, is that he leaned over a pool to drink and fell in love with his own image. Like Echo, he began to waste away with unrequited love, but the gods took pity on him, and turned him into a flower — a daffodil, probably Narcissus tazetta, which we know to have been grown in ancient Greece. Not surprisingly, daffodils came to symbolize both unrequited love and egotism in the Victorian language of flowers, and narcissism has come to mean a pathological sense of preening self-worth.”
Well, there you have it: Boy doesn’t meet nymph, dimly falls in love with his own reflection instead, gets bewitched into a flower, and is linked with a pathology for centuries. Keep his fate in mind next time a wood nymph tried to get your attention.
This is the second of four posts featuring my encounters with this spring’s daffodils. The first post is A Collection of Daffodils (1 of 4).
I’m a big fan of the varieties in the first five photos (and in the last five, with black backgrounds). The others, though, have a different sort of charm: each was a single daffodil standing on its own in an odd place, as certain daffodils like to do.
Thanks for taking a look!