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January 7, 2011

Poetry Friday--Forcing Hyacinth Bulbs

Last week I started forcing a hyacinth bulb on my kitchen windowsill. Almost within hours its roots began to sprout and a touch of green began to show at the top. I think this bulb was ready and waiting for me!

Here's a very old poem by Saadi that says what I would like to say about the hyacinth today.
Hyacinths to Feed Thy Soul

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone
      to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
Saadi is the pen name of the Persian poet Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif ibn-Abdullah Shirazi. Poetry is obviously good for one's health since Saadi lived from 1184 to 1283 (or 1291--the date is uncertain), which would have made him 99 (or 107) when he died!

With any luck, in another few weeks the bulb will bloom a lovely bright pink and flood the kitchen with a gorgeous spring scent. (And then the extra heavy flower head will probably cause the delicate stem to snap--beauty does not come without a price!)

If you'd like to force your own hyacinth bulbs, there's information here to get you started.

Although traditional, you don't really need a hyacinth glass to grow bulbs, my bulb was started in a pottery vase made by my son, Jesse. Hyacinth glasses are not as common as they were in the past. Old ones have become rather collectible. To learn more about the glasses, this site has more information, and photos, than you'll ever need.

What better reason to grow hyacinths than to inspire a poem? Here's a resulting tanka:
the view through
the kitchen window
january's grey
skies eclipsed by
a forced hyacinth

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved
I'll finish with a quote from Carl Sandburg: "Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits." Ponder that for a while, then visit Irene at Live. Love. Explore! for this week's Round-Up of poetry postings.


  1. Ooh, I love your tanka! (Love that you spell grey with an e instead of an a... it's so mucy grey-er that way!) And the Sandburg quote is fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Funny you should mention the "e" in grey. I use an "e" when I'm thinking "cold" and an "a" when I'm thinking "warm."

  3. LOVE that Sandburg quote!! And I love your hyacinths. What a great thing to do in January!! Lovely post.

  4. I love the idea of buying flowers to feed the soul. Enjoy your hyacinths. I always wonder about that word "force." The bulbs and their flowers seem more like willing participants in blooming.

  5. I went to high school with a boy whose middle name was "Hyacinth."

    Jesse's vase couldn't be more perfect for the hyacinth. Neither could your tanka.

  6. Argh! Am dying over the lovliness of this whole post...the quote, the two poems...the delirious, happy thought of forced bulbs. Such goodness.

  7. I couldn't agree with Saadi more. Feeding the soul does so much more than feeding your belly. Love the Tanka, too. I can see it and feel it as I read!

  8. I love the vase you chose for forcing. It seems more "of the earth" than a clear glass one which I see many people use.

    Love your tanka and the Sandburg quote made me giggle, as it always does.

  9. Thanks everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed the post--I enjoyed writing it, especially when I stumbled upon the Sandburg quote without even looking--it is so appropriate.

    Head down to your local garden center, pick up a bag of bulbs, and invite spring in. Laura is right, "force" is the wrong word, let's just call it coaxing!

  10. Great post! A little color blooming in one's house can certainly add a touch brightness at this time of year.

  11. Without fail my maternal grandmother presented me with a "grape" Hyacinth each and every Spring and occasionally a pink one as well. Later, after I married, my mother-in-law often made the remark "It's a Hyacinth for your soul"....and I did not realize she had taken those words from a poem. My husband surprised me with three lovely Hyacinths last night as an early Easter gift. Just today I found the poem online and read it.
    Hyacinths have been a part of my life for such a long time it seems strange that the poem has just made its entrance during my "Autumn" years.
    The beauty of its blossoms is surpassed only by its fragrance. Today I anonymously send a "Hyacinth For Saadi's Soul" :) I will now pass the Hyacinth poem on to my eleven grandchildren :)

  12. Thanks for sharing your story with us! And thank you for sharing the hyacinth poem with your eleven grandchildren. I'm sure the sight of a hyacinth will now forever be connected with their memories of you.