J.D. Salinger ~ Catcher in the Rye
|Datura II ~ Dragan Todorovic|
Cliché is defined by the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary as
(1) a trite phrase or expression; also: the idea expressed by it
(2) a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
(3) something that has become overly familiar or commonplace
Origin of the word:
Cliché is borrowed from French. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype. When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. "Cliché" came to mean such a ready-made phrase.
Now, we'll agree that there are few things so poetic in and of themselves than flowers, but the question remains whether we can use them in poetry without the line or figure of speech immediately falling into the category of cliché. I did a bit of digging (yeah, I know...) to find out how well-known authors or poets have made reference to flowers in original ways. Allow me to share a few examples with you.
|Boter Flowers ~ ULT-gfx Deviantart|
“Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
sank to grief, Eden
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
Fair enough, the poem is so well-known, it may itself have become a cliché, and I don't dare mention Wordsworth and his Daffodils, no matter how unique either poem may have been when first they were written.
Here are a few more examples:
|Image by Cesar R|
“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose , or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off...
...I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers...”
Sonnet XVII Pablo Neruda
"Look, we don't love like flowers
with only one season behind us; when we love,
a sap older than memory rises in our arms."
Rilke, The Third Elegy from Duino Elegies
"The force thatthrough the green fuse drives the flowerDrives my greenage; that blasts the roots of treesIs my destroyer.And I am dumb totell the crooked roseMy youth is bent bythe same wintry fever."Dylan Thomas“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” A.A. MilneTHE CHALLENGE:Write a flowery poem in an un-flowery way: include at least one reference to flowers, either literally or metaphorically, in as non-clichéd a way as possible.All photos used in this post were sourced HERE