The Lotus-Toru Dutt (1856-1877)
Love came to Flora asking for a flower
That would of flowers be undisputed queen,
The lily and the rose, long, long had been
Rivals for that high honour. Bards of power
Had sung their claims. “The rose can never tower
Like the pale lily with her Juno mien”–
“But is the lily lovelier?” Thus between
Flower-factions rang the strife in Psyche’s bower.
Explanation …. Love is the name of the beautiful princess who was courted by Cupid (the god of love in Roman mythology). Cupid wanted to make Love his wife. Love has the mythological name ‘Psyche’.
a. On one occasion, Love approached Flora (The Roman Goddess of flowers and spring) and asked for a flower that would have the magnetic seductiveness of the rose, and the majesty, grace and freshness of the lily.
b. For a long time, the rose and the lily had vied (competed) for the high throne of Queen of Flowers. The competition had become quite keen due to the patronizing of the two rival flowers by eminent poets.
c. The poets who adored rose criticized lily saying it looked pale and stood looking like the goddess Juno. Those who admired lily heaped praise on it profusely. Thus, the flower loving poet community was split into two factions – the rose camp and the lily camp. They engaged in their arguments sitting under the cool shade of the Psyche tree.
“Give me a flower delicious as the rose
And stately as the lily in her pride”–
“But of what colour?”–“Rose-red,” Love first chose,
Then prayed,–“No, lily-white,–or, both provide;”
And Flora gave the lotus, “rose-red” dyed,
And “lily-white,”–the queenliest flower that blows.
Explanation ….. d. Love came to Flora and asked for a flower that would have the elegance and charm of the red rose. Moments later, she changed her mind and opted for the fresh white lily. Still undecided on her choice, she asked Flora to give her a flower that would have the best of the both, the red rose and the white lily.
e. Flora quickly conceived the Lotus that had the attributes of both the red rose in colour and the majesty and towering stance of the lily. Love was greatly delighted as the Lotus was both red and stately in appearance.