niedziela, 14 września 2014

Lilies here and lilies there and then even more lilies

This post is going to be about lilies and lilies alone.
Yes, I am crazy about lilies.
I love how they look, how they smell
and all ambivalence that surround them.
I hope that through this post I will be able
to explain it fuller.

My excuse for this post
is the fact that I have finally
found "my perfume".
It lasted quite long..
I knew that I want to smell lilies,
but it was not so easy to realize.
Either lilies scent was not so distinct
or it was too field-like...
Too flowery, too sweet..
or it was destroyed by other scents.

Cartier Baiser Vole edp
is the solution.

It has lilies in all its notes:
either pistils, petals or leaves.
It is the Lily in all shades of its beauty
with a little add of citruses and green notes
which only highlight the main scent
modestly staying in the background. 

It was not the love from the first smell.
My first impression was:
so that is it.
Maybe I will try other lilies cartier perfums.
But after a few trials I started to like it...
and now... I feel like the smell
starts to conquer my clothes..
I feel it it my room more and more..
Even thought it is quite delicate and subtle
(it rather stays close to your body than surround you everywhere).
step by step it becomes one with your skin, dominate it.
Of course I can use other scents from time to time,
but yes- I feel like this one will be my companion
through many years or longer.
The same like lilies are.

Have I already said
that I was going to decide 
for a name/ nickname
which I want to be called in Japan
and I chose Lily?

Let's start a lily story.
All starts with my perfume.
Take a look at their commercial.

It is romantic (their name is- stolen kiss in french), elegant 
and quite random, typical for perfumes.

But the melody!
Since the first hearing
I was charmed.
The commercial is just romantic,
but the melody is melancholic, disquieting...
it somehow does not suit the commercial.
But it suits the smell of perfumes.
It suits lilies.

I was sure about it
when I listened to all the melody
which is an epilogue (and main motif)
in Korean horror (!)
A Tale of two sisters.

All melody

It remains sweet,
but at the same time it hides
a strange tension inside.
Lilies can pretend to be sweet, innocent,
maybe even a little bit naive,
but then one gust of wind
reveals their inner nature.
This one choking scent note
which for a while dominates all you senses
to disappear quickly,
but you already remember about it.
And about the fact that it is always there hidden.
Perfume are the same.
Sometimes you just feel something flowery
or you do not feel them at all- you are sure they are gone-
but then their  one "small mistake" reveal that they are still here
and they are toxic, poisonous, even deadly.

This amazing movie
suits here very well.
It is based on Korean folktale
The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon
from Joseon era.
The version is changed and more modern,
but the fairy tale atmosphere
(very Grimm-like)
is still present.
So we have two sisters, bad stepmother
and a house full of flowery motifs.
Flowers are really omnipresent.
On walls, on girls clothes...

In original tale
sisters' names mean Rose and Lotus-
so flowery motif is not so surprising.
But in the movie not only
names are changed, but also ending.
Do not expect a happy forever after.
In the tale both sisters died..
and then they were reborn...
here the situation is much more difficult.
Death would be the simplest solution and an escape.
The escape from mental problems,
 guilty conscious and mistakes
which can not be repaired..
Roses and Lotuses are not enough.

We need lilies here.
Lilies can refer to innocence
which is broken here figuratively and literally
(the motif of menstruation).
Lilies can also refer to the hope of a salvation
which is not acquired in the movie,
but the hope remains.
Only hope.. hope for the proper ending-
the movie just leaves a spectator in the middle.
In the constant tension.
Let it end-
even the ending as in Broken Blossom
would be acceptable
(I mention it because in Polish the title
is The Broken Lily).
But do not leave it just like this. In the middle.
I say do end...
but in fact this tension
is what makes this movie a masterpiece.
I would only add hope.
Hope of salvation
(which I do not understand
in religious categories, but more personal).
Just give the girl in the mental hospital
a flowerpot with lilies
and I swear I would cry!
(Sorry for spoilers if you have not seen the movie...)
I start to go too far (as usual)
so now let's concentrate on lilies
and lilies alone.

So other lily motifs
(I will add here different ones in the future.
To not lose them. )

The meaning of lilies is so ambiguous.
Even contradictory.
In different cultures, but also in the area of one.
Lilies has above 80 varieties, but thousands of faces!
Lilium auratum or lilium regale.
(in sequence: from China and Japan)
OMG they are all so beautiful!
They can be found in Sudetes, Carpathians and Alps,
Balkans and Asia.
In Poland most popular is lilium bulbiferum and lilium martagon.
And of course hybrid lily (from cross breeding)
developed in 1978 - stargazer lily.
Isn't this name beautiful? Lily gazing at stars..
(it is rare for lilies to "gaze at stars"..
are they ashamed of their bittersweet smell?)

Colours of lilies can change their meaning like:
-orange lily- hatred or passsion
-pink- prosperity
-white (lilium candidum)
like the world leirion (lily's name comes from it)
delicate and sensitive
etc... it is rather fluid

They were already known in ancient times:
-they come from Hera's milk: Zeus gave Hera Hercules to feed
when she was sleeping. When she realized it
she pushed him away and her milk spilled
on the sky- forming Milky Way and a few drops- on the earth
giving birth to first lilies;
-adorned muse's hair and Zeus's coat;
-ancient Greece- sexuality in general;
-in Rome: a lily was connected with a hope;
-found in a villa in Crete- fresco Lily Prince,
lilies were considered sacred;

-in Rome similar myth (to Hera's one) was present,
but also Romans had another one with Venus.
When she was coming out from the sea
she saw a lily. And was jealous of their perfect beauty so she gave them
a big pistil to destroy it.
Both myths (Venus, Hera) tell the story of being jealous.
Isn't the pistil making the mess here?
-appeared in Egypt and Middle East- fertility, used as a decoration motif;
-in Egypt-put to sarcophagus, probably as a food for the dead!

-Byzantium- prosperity, emperor power.

-innocence and purity- associated with Mary
(it was even an edict of pope in XVIII which established it,
what's more Mary's tomb is said to be decorated with lilies,
different parts of a lily symbolize different Mary's feature ),
 but also her parents and Saint Joseph,
specially white lilies- with Saint Antoni and Saint Joseph;
-Archangel Gabriel often keeps a lily
in annunciation scene;
-used in the iconography of saints- purity;
-it is also said that lilies were created from Eve's tears
when she had to leave Eden;
-in Sermon on the Mount Jesus
used the metaphor of lily on the field-
meaning the full belief in God;
-the symbol of Church in general;
-they are connected with Jesus Christ Resurrection,
used during Easter and funerals as the promise of salvation-
still birth and death... even though it is a death with a hope;
-some believe they were created from Christ's sweat...
and were a form of celebration after his Resurrection;
-Memling used a lily on his The Last Judgment- its role is
to weight humans sins;

-as a symbol of love, also on its sensual level, desire:
used in Songs of Songs;
-worth mentioning: in Anglican churches Christ is sometimes
showed crucified on a lily or holding it! (lily crucifix).

-in contrary to Christianity it is also associated with fertility,
thanks to it phallic pistil;
-used to predict unborn child sex- a person
approached expecting mother
with a lily in one hand and a rose in the other.
If she chooses a rose, she will give born to a girl,
a lily- boy (again phallic connotations appear);
-the symbol the cult of the Great Mother (fertility again);
-alchemy (female element, once female, once male,
lilies join all contradictions);
-emblem of France- meaning like in Byzantium,
this lily Fleur-de-Lis has three petals
referring also to the trinity of
Hope, Faith and Charity.
It is also said that Clovis - King of Franks received
it from Saint Mary..;

-Victorian times: purity again, used on gravestones,
but also majesty;
-in Feng Shui they mean summer and wealth;
-in China a lily can refer to "forever in love";
-they also have their esoteric meaning
and appear in Tarot cards; they mean purity, but also vulnerability..
it is quite a lot.
-in Buddhism tiger lilies refer to women nature.

-famous as a decorative motif on scepters, crowns, thrones
they became connected with royalty and luxury;

Some paintings:

John Singer Sangent
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Alphonse Mucha used lilies quite often
Woman with lilies



-of course Grimm's The Twelve Brothers.
In this fairy tale lilies show their dangerous nature.
A princess picks twelve lilies for her brothers, but flowers
are under the spell so brothers are turned into crows as a result.


-Adam Mickiewicz- Polish poet wrote a ballad Lilje-
Lilies grow on the tomb of a husband who was killed
by his wife.
His brothers who want to marry a widow
make the bouquet of lilies taken
from his grave (uncounsciusly).
Then the husband returns...
Reading this ballad at school
was probably the first time I was fascinated by lilies.
They were threatening, deadly, even macabre,
but still poisonously beautiful and charming.

-William Blake- innocence, heavenly reward;
-Emily Dickinson- she admired lilies,
used them in her poems, called herself and her sister with lily names etc.;

Through the Dark Sod—as Education—
The Lily passes sure—
(lily means here soul's development)

-William Sheakspeare
-Katherine Mansfield The Garden Party
-Carroll's Alice meets tiger lilies who are able to talk,
but only with chosen ones:
'O Tiger-lily,' said Alice, 
addressing herself to one that was waving gracefully 
about in the wind,
'I wish you could talk!' 
'We can talk,' said the Tiger-lily: 'when there's anybody worth talking to

-Tolkien compares Eowyn to a lily"

When I first looked on her and perceived her unhappiness,
it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing straight and proud,
shapely as a lily,
and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel.
Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice,
and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die?

-John Keats also used lilies' metaphor.

Pop culture:
-Kaya uses a lily to his Taboo single.
A lily appears on the cover.

Its smell is the smell of taboo.
Something prohibited and dangerous.
Alluring but painful.

-strange movie L'écume des jours
about a girl in whose lungs
a lily starts to grow..
I have not seen it yet, so no ratings.

Daily use:
-used for 30th anniversaries;
-generally connected with death, used for funerals
(specially of children) and coffins,
but also they appear as wedding flowers;

-paint/ gild the lily means: adorn unnecessarily, adorn something
that is already beautiful and complete.
It can also mean beautify yourself for the special occasion;
-they were also used as a medicine for wounds, burns, bites etc;
-used in cooking e.g in China for desserts;
-used as an emblem by scouts- it refers to courage and righteousness
how lily came to mean courage it somehow intriguing xD
The scouts' lily also has the direction marks-
it means "going in the good direction".

Other lilies:
Some other flowers which do not belong biologically
to a lily family bear "lily in their name"
what only increase lilies' ambiguity
like water lily, calla lily, lily of the valley.....

-dreams about lilies: meaning sanctity of heart,
the need of clearing things up;
looking at lilies- the chance of success etc
(Sorry, I am not into such things)
-lilies are poisonous for cats, specially stargazers..
(that is why I will probably never have a cat...).

Best quotes:

If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily.
 Chinese Proverbs quotes

I wish I were the lily's leaf
To fade upon that bosom warm,
Content to wither, pale and brief, The trophy of thy paler form.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quotes

Like the lily That once was mistress of the field and flourished,
 I'll hang my head and perish.
William Shakespeare

But who will watch my lilies, When their blossoms open white?
By day the sun shall be sentry, And the moon and the stars by night!
Bayard Taylor

And my most favourite for the end:

For her, the lilies hang their heads and die.
Alexander Pope
This is the sign I want to be put on my grave.
Fresh lilies should decorate it
and be kept there until loosing all their petals.


Of course there is much more.
I will try to develop this post successfully
as I am really under the strong charm of these flowers.
This bitter-sweetness
Their toxic charm
leading to a tragedy.
They are a pure essence of my aesthetics ideals...
of my mentality brought up by Hugo's romanticism,
Dostoyevsky's dark soul and Wilde's life pleasures.
A lily personifies it all.
I can get all excited by simply thinking about them.
Like Emily Dickinson I can say that there is not other commandment
than "considering lilies".

For the end just one more reference.
Lilies and ballet.
Do not you think that a lily is very similar to a ballerina?
Seems delicate, subtle with her ethereal petals,
but inside bears extraordinary strength
without it learning ballet would be impossible.
Lilies just like ballet dancers have their strong stems
which allow them to survive for so long
with the flawless posture until the very end.



The Dance of Lilies?
I see it as an amazing abstract ballet.
Something similar to Balanchine's Jewels.
Different groups could personify varied aspects of lilies.
Like innocence, death and love.
In the end meeting of them all would lead to a chaos,
but at the same time it would refer to life's absurdity
when you are not able to simply choose one meaning
and reject all the rest.
You are always in between.
Until lilies hang their heads and die.
This is how my story would end.

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