Friday, 30 October 2009

The Secret of Eternal Youth

In China there is a legendary river
in the Sweet Valley (Amaya no Kikusui)
which flows with the essence of chrysanthemum dew
and those who drink from the river never grow old.

I love the image of Li Qing Zhao (1084-ca. 1151),
one of the early female Chinese poets,
moistening chrysanthemum-patterned brocade
with the dew from chrysanthemum flowers
and rubbing her face with it
to smooth away the wrinkles.

I must confess that I do not love chrysanthemums
but even as I turn away from the gaudy colours
and acrid smell of the cut stems
I know that they are the last flowers of the year
and I must now wait patiently until Spring.

As Matsuo Basho (1644-94) wrote

After the chrysanthemum
there is only the radish

(Thank goodness that radishes are
Not the Secret of Eternal Youth.
Bathing your face in radish dew
does not have quite the same appeal.)


  1. .....first stop is the supermarket buy every raddish in do we eat or apply ?

  2. Just a beautiful post, plain and simple!

  3. Not a chrysanthemum fan here either, but your photo might change my mind - beautiful!

  4. I'm not sure I would want eternal youth. It makes me tired just to think about it. I rather like that last picture of the embroidered chrysanthemum though.

  5. Where do you get your ideas from? Just wonderful

  6. Chrysanths are about the only flower I don't grow..... (hence the wrinkled visage???):O)

  7. Bet that would tighten the skin!

  8. Your chrysanthemum/radish saying made me laugh Alice. It has begetable realism and I suppose says'face up to winter'. I question it though. What about:

    Winter sweet

    Visit the winter garden at Anglesey Abbey. I'll come with you.


  10. Not sure how relevant all of this is as MrsM is perpetually 21 - the result of being a child bride. It will become more difficult to sustain this once MasterM and MissM surpass that age themselves

  11. Isn't he lovely? Or is he just worried that you might go out and buy Creme de la Mer instead of chrysanthemums? (I hope he is not being sarcastic - I can't see his face so it is difficult to tell.)

    Pomona x

  12. Oh I don't know Mr.M, despite celebrating an 'ahemtieth' birthday last December my mother has stayed a vibrant and youthful 25 regardless of the advancing years of her children!

  13. Do you not have Christmas cacti in England? Ours is just coming into its first blooms right now -- and is looking like it's going to be stunningly beautiful this year. Of course, it's inside, not out, but still, blooms.

  14. Radish dew? Really? I'll just choose to age gracefully.

  15. Can I hug MrM for being so infinitely sweet and a true English gentleman. Please allow me.
    Also, where do you get these wonderful gems?
    I am learning so much from you. Thanks.


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