Tulips and Tortoises



It’s joyful tulip time, tumbling over each other as they draw every little bit of attention in the room to themselves and no wonder they do what they want. These are the kings of spring flowers, and once they would have sucked up a bank balance as easily as they drink every drop of water in the vase. Here’s an account of a tulip party I would have so dearly liked to have been at:

Music filled the grounds where the Sultan’s five wives took air. One of the courtyards of the Grand Seraglio was turned into an open-air theatre; thousands of tulip flowers were mounted on pyramids and towers, with lanterns and cages of singing birds hung between them. Tulips filled the flower beds, each variety marked with a label of filigree silver. At the signal from a cannon, the doors of the harem were opened and the Sultan’s mistresses were led out into the garden by eunuchs carrying torches. Guests had to dress in clothes that matched the tulips (and avoid setting themselves on fire by brushing against candles carried on the backs of hundreds of tortoises that ambled round the grounds).

And here’s a beautiful poem by A E Stallings (click on the link below to read it all). I love it when poetry makes you look again, because tulips do faint, rather than wilt! :

The tulips make me want to paint, / Something about the way they drop / Their petals on the tabletop / And do not wilt so much as faint,

Source: Tulips by A. E. Stallings : Poetry Magazine

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