“Unfortunate Mottos, an erasure poem”

Lynn Pattison created “Unfortunate Mottos, an erasure poem” from Floral Emblems by Henry Phillips (1825). Please click here to read.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Lynn Pattison writes:

The Victorians took flowers seriously. Each flower and herb assigned a meaning, each bouquet read as carefully as the Tarot. Messages of love, dismay, or outright rejection could be conveyed without uttering or writing a word. Intrigued by all that was written about what flowers symbolized, and curious about how the old meanings could be modernized, I wrote my own series of poems, The Meaning of Flowers. I browsed old bookstores and collections preserved on the web, fascinated by the importance of flower communications and interpretations. I’m convinced that learning the old flower-language would have been as challenging as achieving fluency in French or German!

I found tomes related to every facet of flower information: how to make wax flowers, preserve natural flowers (embalming!), macerate and prepare skeletal leaves, and much more. I tried my hand at erasure poems with some of the texts, and “Unfortunate Mottos” resulted from those efforts.