“The Narcissus wondrously glittering, a noble sight for all, whether immortal gods or mortal men; from whose root a hundred heads spring forth, and at the fragrant odour thereof all the broad heaven above and all the earth laughed, and the salt wave of the sea.”
“The flower thus praised by the ancient Greeks is believed to have been the Tazetta or bunch-flowered narcissus, which, besides being the most widespread of the genus, is also the one longest associated with man. Centuries before even the time of Homer, flowers of this species were used by the Egyptians in their funeral wreaths, and have been found in tombs, still wonderfully preserved after 3000 years. This was the flower, originally white, which was turned yellow by the touch of Pluto when he captured Persephone sleeping with a wreath of them on her hair; a legend which nicely accounts for the fact that there are yellow ‘polyanthus‘ species closely resembling the white ones….
“N. poeticus, the poet’s narcissus, was also known to the (slightly less) ancient Greeks, and was probably the flower ‘whose Beauty they deduced in their wild Way, from the Metamorphosis of a celebrated Youth of the same Name’ — a story fabricated by the later poet, Ovid; both species were mentioned by Theophrastus, about 320 B.C….
“Pliny says that the plant was named Narcissus because of the narcotic quality of its scent — ‘of Narce which betokeneth nummednesse or dulnesse of sense, and not of the young boy Narcissus, as poets do feign and fable’….
“The Furies wore narcissus flowers among their tangled locks, and are said to have used them to stupefy those whom they intended to punish. Some lingering wraith of this tradition may account for the belief that the scent of the narcissus is harmful, which persisted at least till the nineteenth century; the scent of the jonquil and the tazetta was particularly distrusted, and in close rooms, was considered ‘extremely disagreeable, if not actually injurious, to delicate persons’. It was said to cause headache, or even madness.”
This is the third of four posts featuring photos of daffodils from Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens, that I took in February. The first post in this series is The Daffodils are Here! (1 of 4), and the second post is The Daffodils are Here! (2 of 4). For this post and the last one, I’m uploading photos of those that (mostly) fall into the tazetta or poeticus variations — some of which produce clusters of flowers on a single stem, all of which have white petals and display miniature orange or yellow (or orange AND yellow) “trumpets” at the centers. These are always my favorite daffodil varieties, and I was surprised just two days ago to see that there are still bunches of batches blooming, despite them having gotten off to an early February start.
Thanks for taking a look!