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Oriental (Oklahoma, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
goddess of beauty encircled with a Lotus the brow of Rama. Consider the lilies. All over our rural watercourses, at midsummer, float these cups of snow. They are Nature's symbols of coolness. They suggest to us the white garments of their Oriental worshippers. They come with the white roses, and prepare the way for the white lilies of the garden. The white doe of Rylstone and Andrew Marvell's fawn might fitly bathe amid their beauties. Yonder steep bank slopes down to the lake-side, onn the Lotus in an attitude of contemplation, and reflected upon the Eternal, who soon appeared to him in the form of a man with a thousand heads, —a questionable exchange for his Lotus-solitude. This is Brahminism; but the other great form of Oriental religion has carried the same fair symbol with it. One of the Bibles of the Buddhists is named The White Lotus of the Good Law. A pious Nepaulese bowed in reverence before a vase of lilies which perfumed the study of Sir William Jones. At suns
Runnymede (United Kingdom) (search for this): chapter 3
that two adjacent ponds will sometimes be haunted by two distinct sets of species. In the water, among the leaves, little shining whirlwigs wheel round and round, fifty joining in the dance, till, at the slightest alarm, they whirl away to some safer ball-room, and renew the merriment. On every floating log, as we approach it, there is a convention of turtles, sitting in calm debate, like mailed barons, till, as we draw near, they plump into the water, and paddle away for some subaqueous Runnymede. Beneath, the shy and stately pickerel vanishes at a glance, shoals of minnows glide, black and bearded pouts frisk aimlessly, soft water-newts hang poised without motion, and slender pickerel-frogs cease occasionally their submerged croaking, and darting to the surface, with swift vertical strokes, gulp a mouthful of fresh air, and down again to renew the moist soliloquy. Time would fail us to tell of the feathered life around us,—the blackbirds that build securely in these thickets,
Nineveh (Virginia, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
e waters. The sacred bull Apis was wreathed with its garlands; there were niches for water, to place it among tombs; it was carved in the capitals of columns; it was represented on plates and vases; the sculptures show it in many sacred uses, even as a burnt-offering; Isis holds it; and the god Nilus still binds a wreath of waterlilies around the throne of Memnon. From Egypt the Lotus was carried to Assyria, and Layard found it among fir-cones and honeysuckles on the later sculptures of Nineveh. The Greeks dedicated it to the nymphs, whence the name Nymphaea. Nor did the Romans disregard it, though the Lotus to which Ovid's nymph Lotis was changed, servato nomine, was a tree, and not a flower. Still different a thing was the enchanted stem of the Lotus-caters of Herodotus, which prosaic botanists have reduced to the Zizyphus Lotus found by Mungo Park, translating also the yellow Lotus-dust into a mere farina, tasting like sweet gingerbread. But in the Lotus of Hindostan we fi
Venice (Italy) (search for this): chapter 3
oses, and prepare the way for the white lilies of the garden. The white doe of Rylstone and Andrew Marvell's fawn might fitly bathe amid their beauties. Yonder steep bank slopes down to the lake-side, one solid mass of pale pink laurel, but, once upon the water, a purer tint prevails. The pink fades into a lingering flush, and the white creature floats peerless, set in green without and gold within. That bright circle of stamens is the very ring with which Doges once wedded the Adriatic; Venice has lost it, but it dropped into the water-lily's bosom, and there it rests forever. So perfect in form, so redundant in beauty, so delicate, so spotless, so fragrant,—what presumptuous lover ever dared, in his most enamored hour, to liken his mistress to a water-lily? No human Blanche or Lilian was ever so fair as that. The water-lily comes of an ancient and sacred family of white-robed priests. They assisted at the most momentous religious ceremonies, from the beginning of recorded t
California (California, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
k thing disappearing in the waters yonder, a soft mass of drowned fur, is a muskrat, or musquash Later in the season, a mound of earth will be his winter dwelling-place; and these myriad muscle-shells at the water's edge are the remnant of his banquets,—once banquets for the Indians, too. But we must return to our lilies. There is no sense of wealth like floating in this archipelago of white and green. The emotions of avarice become almost demoralizing. Every flower bears a fragrant California in its bosom, and you feel impoverished at the thought of leaving one behind. Then, after the first half-hour of eager grasping, one becomes fastidious, rather avoids those on which the wasps and flies have alighted, and seeks only the stainless. But handle them tenderly, as if you loved them. Do not grasp at the open flower as if it were a peony or a hollyhock, for then it will come off, stalkless, in your hand, and you will cast it blighted upon the water; but coil your thumb and seco
Severn (United Kingdom) (search for this): chapter 3
te petals, and these spring apart at the first touch of the finger on the stem. Some spread vast vases of fragrance, six or seven inches in diameter, while others are small and delicate, with petals like fine lace-work. Smaller still, we sometimes pass a flotilla of infant leaves, an inch in diameter. All these grow from the dark water,—and the blacker it is, the fairer their whiteness shows. But your eye follows the stem often vainly into those sombre depths, and vainly seeks to behold Sabrina fair, sitting with her twisted braids of lilies, beneath the glassy, cool, but not translucent wave. Do not start, when, in such an effort, only your own dreamy face looks back upon you, beyond the gunwale of the reflected boat, and you find that you float double-self and shadow. Let us rest our paddles, and look round us, while the idle motion sways our light skiff onward, now half embayed among the lily-pads, now lazily gliding over into intervening gulfs. There is a great deal goin
South America (search for this): chapter 3
lar, if upon these delicate floating leaves a fragment of our earliest vernacular has been borne down to us, so that here the school-boy is more learned than the philologists. This lets us down easily to the more familiar uses of this plant divine. By the Nile, in early days, the waterlily was good not merely for devotion, but for diet. From the seeds of the Lotus, said Pliny, the Egyptians make bread. The Hindoos still eat the seeds, roasted in sand; also the stalks and roots. In South America, from the seeds of the Victoria (Nymphaea Victoria, now Vicloria Regia) a farina is made, preferred to that of the finest wheat,— Bonpland even suggesting to our reluctant imagination Victoria-pies. But the European species are used, so far as is reported, only in dyeing, and as food (if the truth be told) of swine. Our own water-lily is rather more powerful in its uses; the root contains tannin and gallic acid, and a decoction of it gives a black precipitate, with sulphate of iron. I
Ovid (Michigan, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
in the capitals of columns; it was represented on plates and vases; the sculptures show it in many sacred uses, even as a burnt-offering; Isis holds it; and the god Nilus still binds a wreath of waterlilies around the throne of Memnon. From Egypt the Lotus was carried to Assyria, and Layard found it among fir-cones and honeysuckles on the later sculptures of Nineveh. The Greeks dedicated it to the nymphs, whence the name Nymphaea. Nor did the Romans disregard it, though the Lotus to which Ovid's nymph Lotis was changed, servato nomine, was a tree, and not a flower. Still different a thing was the enchanted stem of the Lotus-caters of Herodotus, which prosaic botanists have reduced to the Zizyphus Lotus found by Mungo Park, translating also the yellow Lotus-dust into a mere farina, tasting like sweet gingerbread. But in the Lotus of Hindostan we find our flower again, and the Oriental sacred books are cool with water-lilies. Open the Vishnu Purana at any page, and it is a Sorte
Niagara County (New York, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
o suffer in drought and to take pleasure in the rain. After speaking of the various kindred of the water-lily, it would be wrong to leave our modest species without due mention of its rarest and most magnificent relative, at first claimed even as its twin sister, and classed as a Nymphaea. I once lived near neighbor to a Victoria Regia. Nothing in the world of vegetable existence has such a human interest. The charm is not in the mere size of the plant, which disappoints everybody, as Niagara does, when tried by that sole standard. The leaves of the Victoria, indeed, attain a diameter of six feet; the largest flowers, of twenty-three inches,—four times the size of the largest of our water-lilies. But it is not the measurements of the Victoria, it is its life which fascinates. It is not a thing merely of dimensions, nor merely of beauty, but a creature of vitality and motion. Those vast leaves expand and change almost visibly. They have been known to grow half an inch an hou
rve the blessed words upon cliff and stone. Having got thus far into Orientalism, we can hardly expect to get out again without some slight entanglement in philology. Lily-pads. Whence pads? No other leaf is identified with that singular monosyllable. Has our floating Lotus-leaf any connection with padding, or with a footpad? with the ambling pad of an abbot, or a paddle, or a paddock, or a padlock? With many-domed Padua proud, or with St. Patrick? Is the name derived from the Anglo-Saxon paad or petthian, or the Greek patew All the etymologists are silent; Tooke and Richardson ignore the problem; and of the innumerable pamphlets in the Worcester and Webster Controversy, loading the tables of schoolcommittee-men, not one ventures to grapple with the lily-pad. But was there ever a philological trouble for which the Sanscrit could not afford at least a conjectural cure? A dictionary of that extremely venerable tongue is an ostrich's stomach, which can crack the hardest etym
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