Poem: The Lavenders

A sprig on the wrist
a spell for a plague
is worth two
in the bush
where the Lavenders
lay their cares.
Such a fair flower
stolen like sinning
sweeter than
forgiveness
scented from heaven
lost on earth. 
Found to be useful
for washing and cures
of body
and heart ache
lullaby-ing sleep
and madness. 
Such ladies at work
their laundry to air
for rumors
to ruin them
unless modesty
can save them. 
All through the ages
a toiling to some
and leisure
for
others
somehow a likeness
in essence. 
For how they do grow
Well drain’d in full sun
or covered
in winter
with still enough breath
to live on.
 
Clusters of secrets
that beg to be kept
in
sachets
and strewing
their hopes to the wind
and a way.

Writing note: In Medieval and Renaissance Europe servant women who washed in lavender water, placed lavender in linens or draped laundry on lavender bushes to dry became known as  ‘Lavenders’. The lowliest of these were sometimes reputed to be prostitutes.

Lavender has long had many uses and legends attached to it, and I have included just a few in this poem. Adam and Eve were said to have taken lavender flowers with them when they were banished from the Garden of Eden. The Greeks used lavender as a remedy for various ailments including muscle ache, insomnia and insanity. The Romans loved using the plant in their bathing rituals, believing it purified the body and soul. They gave it its name, derived from the Latin “lavare” which means “to wash” and introduced it to the English.

During plague epidemics it was credited with warding off the disease, often with a sprig fastened to each wrist. Today it is certainly a popular flower and herb, and taken only for its beautiful appearance and scent deserves much attention.

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 
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28 thoughts on “Poem: The Lavenders

    • Thanks so much, Thomas! I appreciate your visit and thoughtful comment. Yes, history offers so much to the writer. When I heard about the ‘Lavenders’ just a few weeks ago, I knew I had to write something about them. Perhaps one day more…

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    • Thanks, Heather. Yes, there’s so much interesting information regarding women throughout history working around the limitations imposed on them. Thanks also for that tidbit regarding women painting still-life, something which I must investigate further!

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  1. This is just so lovely! And also the illustrations. I love the picture of the servant woman; servant she may be but she is certainly spreading this sheet over the lavender with love.

    You tell us about the different uses for Lavender in such a beautifully calming manner and I especially love

    “clusters of secrets
    that beg to be kept
    in sachets
    and strewing
    their hopes to the wind
    and a way”

    I have lavender in the garden and love to brush past it letting it kiss my clothes and fingers.

    Christine

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    • Thank you, Christine! I always enjoy your comments so…on all the blogs I visit that you do too. I almost didn’t include that last stanza in the poem…I thought it might make the poem too long…but it begged ‘to be kept.’

      “I have lavender in the garden and love to brush past it letting it kiss my clothes and fingers.’ This is such a beautiful line…scents, especially delicate flower scents, seem so much more engaging when we let them reach out to us…

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  2. This is beautiful, and I love the writing notes. I’m really glad you kept the final stanza; I agree with Christine. And, to me, the mention of secrets echoes back to ‘rumors to ruin them’. I love all the ideas and emotions fleeting subtly through the poem – almost like the scent of lavender in the air. And I felt as though I could actually catch the scent of lavender while I was reading this. Wonderful illustrations, as ever; beautiful colouring.

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    • Thank you once again for your perceptive, sensitive and kind comment. I hadn’t really thought of how ‘secrets’ connected back to ‘rumors’..just the image that came to me as a description of the little lavender flowers…I’m sure you know how that is!

      Hope you are enjoying the season! We have been spared much snow yet. (I remember when I lived in Oxfordshire how a dusting would bring everything to a standstill…which is not really such a bad thing now, is it?)

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  3. Thank you for sharing the history of lavender – it is one of my favorite scents. With all of your beautiful detail I can almost smell lavender all around me. 🙂

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  4. Oh, what we don’t try to hide in sachets! Love this post, one of your best this quarter! Loved the drawings, the washerwomen: brings back childhood memories to helping with laundry after hurricanes had all the power out back home!

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  5. Oh this was wonderfully informative–as well as such lovely writing–thank you! And thank you for your recent visits–Until you pointed it out to me, I hadn’t realized my double acrostic shared your poem’s name/title!! Hmmm-great poetic minds? God bless you today!

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      • Oh goodness–probably not “genius”, just a gift from God! But this is great fun, getting to know you–I was so intimidated by you when I started this gig in August (yes, Really!). And I like the theme of your blog too–the black and teal (?)–I considered it for mine. See you again soon–God bless you!

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      • Well, certainly, you are very gifted…and I agree, that whatever ‘talents’ one has are a privilege given from God which we should use wisely and with positive intent. That’s why no matter what mood I’m in, I like to bring some beauty out of it. Isn’t that what nature does?

        I am sorry you were intimidated, Caddo…you shouldn’t have been…’by day’ I’m just an administrative assistant and receptionist. But my life is made so much richer for painting and writing, and even more so now with sharing a little.

        I’ve continued to like this wordpress theme, though it has some limitations. It was upgraded but I didn’t go for it as I didn’t like the look as much. I feel this suits what I’m doing here.

        I feel very glad we’ve connected! And I can at least say that in your writing you are a wonderful painter of words! Have a blessed day!

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  6. I dare say you’re greatly multi-talented! A day job as an admin assist and receptionist requires many gifts, indeed! Thank you so much that we can be “mutual fans”–God bless you, dear.

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