florilegium: a collection of literary extracts (an anthology)
from Early 17th century modern Latin, literally ‘bouquet’ (from Latin flos, flor- ‘flower’ + legere ‘gather’)

2020, oil on linen, 32×30 inches, private collection

Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The Lovebirds
2020, oil on panel, 14×18 inches, private collection

Song: “It was a lover and his lass”

It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green cornfield did pass,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
Those pretty country folks would lie,
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crownèd with the prime
In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

The First Jasmines
by Rabindranath Tagore

Ah, these jasmines, these white jasmines!
I seem to remember the first day when I filled my
hands with these jasmines, these white jasmines.
I have loved the sunlight, the sky and the green
I have heard the liquid murmur of the river
through the darkness of midnight;
Autumn sunsets have come to me at the bend of a
road in the lonely waste, like a bride raising her veil to
accept her lover.
Yet my memory is still sweet with the first white
jasmines that I held in my hands when I was a child.

Many a glad day has come in my life, and I have
laughed with merrymakers on festival nights.
On grey mornings of rain I have crooned many
an idle song.
I have worn round my neck the evening wreath of
bakulas woven by the hand of love.
Yet my heart is sweet with the memory of the
first fresh jasmines that filled my hands when I was
a child.

Child with Jasmines
2020, oil on panel, 10×8 inches
Wounded Cupid with a Bee
2020, oil on panel, 12×9 inches, private collection

The Wounded Cupid Song
by Anacreon
translated by Robert Herrick

Cupid as he lay among
Roses, by a Bee was stung.
Whereupon in anger flying
To his Mother, said thus crying;
Help! O help! your Boy’s a dying.
And why, my pretty Lad, said she?
Then blubbering, replied he,
A winged Snake has bitten me,
Which Country people call a Bee.
At which she smil’d; then with her hairs
And kisses drying up his tears:
Alas! said she, my Wag! if this
Such a pernicious torment is:
Come tell me then, how great’s the smart
Of those, thou woundest with thy Dart!

Hand with White Lilies and Lover’s Eye
2020, oil on panel, 12×6 inches, private collection

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn:
The humble Sheep, a threat’ning horn:
While the Lilly white, shall in Love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

~ “The Lilly” by William Blake

Hand with Tulip
2020, oil on panel, 10×8 inches
Available at Meyer Gallery, Park City

I would if I could choose
Age and die outwards as a tulip does;
Not as this iris drawing in, in-coiling
Its complex strange taut inflorescence, willing
Itself a bud again – though all achieved is
No more than a clenched sadness,

The tears of gum not flowing.
I would choose the tulip’s reckless way of going;
Whose petals answer light, altering by fractions
From closed to wide, from one through many perfections,
Til wrecked, flamboyant, strayed beyond recall,
Like flakes of fire they piecemeal fall.

~ “Deaths of Flowers” by Edith Joy Scovell

The Winter’s Child
2020, oil on panel, 14×11 inches, private collection

The snowdrop, Winter’s timid child,
Awakes to life, bedew’d with tears;
And flings around its fragrance mild,
And where no rival flow’rets bloom,
Amid the bare and chilling gloom,
A beauteous gem appears!

~ from “Ode to the Snowdrop” by Mary Robinson

Evanescence: Hand with Hummingbirds and Orchids
2019, oil on panel, 12×12 inches, private collection

A Route of Evanescence, (1489)

A Route of Evanescence,
With a revolving Wheel –
A Resonance of Emerald
A Rush of Cochineal –
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts it’s tumbled Head –
The Mail from Tunis – probably,
An easy Morning’s Ride –

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them,
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

~ from “The Lotos-Eaters” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Lotus Eaters
2020, oil on panel, 10×10 inches, private collection

Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again tho’ cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.

~ “Echo” by Christina Rossetti

‘The lyre my fingers pluck, the songs I chant,
shall celebrate you; and as a new flower,
you’ll bear inscribed upon you, my lament.
And, too, in time to come, the bravest man
shall be identified with you―Ajax’
own letters, on your petals shall be stamped.’

As he spoke these true words, the blood that had
been spilled upon the ground and stained the grass
is blood no more; instead―more brilliant than
the purple dye of Tyre―a flower sprang;
though lily-shaped, it was not silver-white;
this flower was purple. Then not yet content,
Phoebus―for it was he who’d brought about
this wonder that would honor Hyacinthus―
inscribed upon the petals his lament:
with his own hand, he wrote these letters―AI,
AI―signs of sad outcry.

~ from “The Death of Hyacinthus” in “The Metamorphoses, Book X”
by Ovid
translated by Allen Mandelbaum