This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sunday Rest: lent lily. Words Not To Use Today.

Can you imagine anything more morbidly depressing than a lent lily? Lent is a time for fasting and gloom, and lilies are associated with sickness,* death, and migraine.

So what's a lent lily?
It's a daffodil. Yes, one of those bobbing, bright yellow (usually) things. Yes, a daff: common as muck, but definitely cheerful. A sign of hope and health.
All right daffodils contain the poison lycorine, and all right Persephone was lured into the Underworld when picking one, and, yes, to call a lawyer a daffadowndilly has sometimes been a criminal libel.

And, okay, daffodils are a symbol of vanity on some places, too.

But then daffs are the national flower of Wales (as it happens the Welsh for daffodil, cenin Pedr, means Peter's Leek; but even that's better than lent lily) and a daffodil is also a symbol of the Kurdish people.

As if that's not honour enough, in the East daffodils are a sign of good fortune, and in Japan daffodil bulb carving is high art.
So away with the gloomy lent lily, I say.

And bring on the daffs.

Words Not To Use Today: lent lily. Lent comes from the Old English lengten, which means spring (that is, when the days lengthen). Lily comes, changed a little in form though not in meaning, from the Greek leirion.

*Or is it just that I have Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci stuck in my mind? "I see a lily on thy brow,/With anguish moist and fever-dew" .

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