Poetry Friday: “the principle of girl as flower”

h1 May 25th, 2007 by eisha

Daffodil, CrocodileDaffodilOh, what are the odds? I popped over to the Poetry 180 site to look for a poem to post, and clicked on this one because I liked the title and it sounded, you know, springy… And what do I find: a poem about a girl dressed like a daffodil. The very day after Jules reviewed Daffodil, Crocodile – a picture book about a girl named Daffodil who drops the girly-girl bit and runs around pretending to be a crocodile for a while. Coincidence? I think not…

The character first appeared in Jenkins’s Daffodil (FSG/Frances Foster, 2004), a great story in which triplet girls, all named after flowers, rebel against their mother’s habit of dressing them in poufy concoctions color-coded to their names. Daffodil, naturally, is always forced to wear yellow – until she’s finally allowed to choose her own cherry-red pant suit. I like this girl. It’s no surprise to me that in her second book she’s accessorizing with a papier-mache crocodile head.

It’s fun to think about girls like Daffodil while reading this poem, “Because You Left Me a Handful of Daffodils” by Max Garland. I bet the narrator, so intimidated (and physically hindered) by this lovely girl in her layers of crinoline, has no idea what a cage that dress can be for a girl.

She wore a dress based upon the principle
of the daffodil: puffed sleeves,
inflated bodice, profusion
of frills along the shoulder blades
and hemline.

A dress based upon the principle of girl
as flower; everything unfolding, spilling
outward and downward: ribbon, stole,
corsage, sash.

…And escorting her down the runway
was a losing battle, trying to march
down among the full, thick folds
of crinoline, into the barrage of her
father’s flashbulbs, wading
the backwash of her mother’s

Read the poem in its entirety here.

5 comments to “Poetry Friday: “the principle of girl as flower””

  1. What a great post! And great poem . . . I love how you tie it in to Jenkins’ books. You will really like Daffodil, Crocodile . . .

  2. The “girl as flower” bit reminds me of a part in the Upstairs, Downstairs series, when one of the “upstairs” folks comments upon how female servants are given flower names but are nipped in the bud, as it were (since boyfriends were strictly prohibited).

    One of my daughter’s dollies has 11 brothers and sisters, all named after flowers. Girls’ names were easy, but the boys’ names provided more of a challenge a la Johnny-Jump-Up, Jonquil, and Jack-in-the Pulpit.

    I appreciate the poem and book pairing. It’s the literary equivalent of dinner and a movie.

  3. Oh my goodness. I LOVE this poem. I’m totally imagining this in the voice of child actor Fred Savage when he played Kevin Arnold in the tv show, The Wonder Years.

  4. Thanks, ya’ll. Akelda, that’s a great analogy: “dinner and a movie.” And Vivian – that’s hilarious. Now that you’ve said it, I can imagine it that way, too.

  5. I so loved that poem!

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