Crocus laconique, saillant
Montre nous, les hommes
Comment passer sans rancoeur
Reflecting on this photo this morning (now Tuesday, two days after I posted this photo on Sunday) I realized that the tiny plant that had made me think so carefully since then deserved a poem. I wrote it in French mainly because the French “sans” saved me a syllable and thereby satisfied the rigor of the Haiku, but discovered that I liked the sound, lucidity and subtlety of what I could say in French much better than what I had produced in English. After posting this photo on Sunday, I have reflected long upon the flower’s shockingly short life in bloom and realized that little brother Crocus was rewarding me for my attention by teaching me a surprising lesson. The lessons for me were several (cyclicity, fleetingness, acceptance, grace, opportunity, attention, action, brilliance…) but I will highlight this one:
The beauty of the crocus bloom is made more precious by its very fleetingness.
Still more learning: Writing a poem with strict parameters is a process of discovery in any language. One is forced to forage around for the right word and the searching often reveals better words that don’t quickly come to mind. Laconic is usually used to describe a speaker who chooses words very efficiently – sometimes even to a fault. I liked its ambiguity here. (A plant, wordless, is laconic in the extreme!)
Then I found saillant – vivid and attention-grabbing but, with the humble crocus, only if you look closely enough. A new word for me since French is my second language.
Crow-COOS, la-con-EEK, sigh-AWN
sounded a whole lot better to me than “Vivid, laconic crocus.”
Then I thought of the crocus sighing as it slowly laid its blooms upon the earth.
Here is what I had in English before switching languages:
O graceful, fleeting flower
May we learn from you
To pass quickly, without venom
Not bad, rules satisfied, but not specific to the uniquely short-lived blooms of the crocus, a word unusable to me because of its “clunking” sound in the English tongue.
About the photo:
We don’t get many crocuses. When I saw this one partly open in morning sun in our front garden on Thursday I promised myself to take a shot with my 90mm Tamron macro lens. With two days of rain predicted I had to cover it until today or the rain, I feared, would beat it up. It stayed closed and upright. Sunday was sunny but there was no direct sunlight on it when, by afternoon, I had a little time window to record it before an expected long, but pleasant, phone call. It was perfectly open and softly illuminated. I quickly took 6 shots hand held at 1/100 s and f/2.8 at ISO 100 with my old Maxxum 5D, using aperture priority and manual focus. The wind was a factor. Though in a low crouch, I felt like a fully extended Maria Sharapova trying to control a high serve toss.
Note: On a sunny Monday morning it was still in beautiful bloom. By the early, still sunny, afternoon the three blooms were lying on the warm, welcoming ground.
I normally see crocuses as shy, small and fleeting. So glad to have preserved this one in all its confident beauty – and spent some pleasurable time learning my lessons.
One more thought: the connection between fleetingness and preciousness is not unique to beauty or flowers.