The heart asks for fragrance, even when it is no longer young

white dahlia

The flowers now appeared in their most gorgeous robes, but all in vain

Spring went by, and summer drew towards its close; autumn came; but he had not decided. The flowers now appeared in their most gorgeous robes, but all in vain; they had not the fresh, fragrant air of youth. For the heart asks for fragrance, even when it is no longer young; and there is very little of that to be found in the dahlias or the dry chrysanthemums; therefore the butterfly turned to the mint on the ground. You know, this plant has no blossom; but it is sweetness all over, —full of fragrance from head to foot, with the scent of a flower in every leaf.

“I will take her,” said the butterfly; and he made her an offer. But the mint stood silent and stiff, as she listened to him. At last she said, “Friendship, if you please; nothing more. I am old, and you are old, but we may live for each other just the same; as to marrying —no; don’t let us appear ridiculous at our age.”

by Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875)
from Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, The Butterfly, 1861

And then…

…I want to reach in and tickle the “dry chrysanthemums” and the “silent and stiff” mint.

I liked the mint better when she was first described: “sweetness all over, —full of fragrance from head to foot, with the scent of a flower in every leaf.” I wonder if she knows how beautiful she is.

I hope I am brave and joyful enough to live the delight of seeming ridiculous, at any age.

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