Rosemary and pansies

The news here continues to be full of updates on the progress of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings. But alongside those reports are stories of the different efforts of people around the country attempting to get back to normal. Stories of running clubs dedicating their workouts to those injured at the race. Prayer services and vigils are offered “in defiance of terror.” From the clothing they wear, to the donations they give, small gestures give people everywhere the opportunity to heal.

For myself, I don’t particularly buy into the dialogue we often hear about “not letting the terrorists win.” Perhaps such statements motivate others, but to me, such words seem vengeful yet simultaneously empty. I’d rather take time to reflect, to grieve appropriately, to offer what I can.

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

Hamlet, Act IV, scene v.

I hadn’t ever given much thought to the symbolism behind flowers, but for some reason this week, the quote from Hamlet popped into my mind. Never mind that Ophelia was losing her mind when she spoke these words. The thought prompted me to pick up The Language of Flowers, a novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The book was loaned to me by my mother, and I haven’t read it yet, but it has in the back a small dictionary of flowers and their meanings. After referring to it, I gathered a small bouquet from my garden, which I offer as my tribute to the far too many people in this world who suffer or die in violence.

  • Bluebells: Constancy
  • Carnations, red: My heart breaks
  • Cypress: Mourning
  • Dogwood: Love undiminished by adversity
  • Fennel: Strength
  • Magnolia: Dignity
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Pansy: Think of me
  • Yarrow: Cure for a broken heart


Peace be with each one of you.


5 thoughts on “Rosemary and pansies

  1. Your flowers offer much more healing than the dialogue we often hear about not letting them win. Thanks for this gentle, moving tribute.
    (I read and enjoyed this book a few months ago.)

  2. A lovely thought. I found researching the meaning of flowers for my sister’s funeral a few years back very helpful. Rosemary was amongst them I remember and small roses.

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