Human Flower Project
Monday, November 29, 2004
Korea’s Modernist Master Dies
Kim Chun-su, who exemplified modern poetry in 20th Century Korea, has died at age 82.
Korea’s most beloved poet died Monday after a three month hospitalization. Kim Chun-su was born in 1922 near Pusan. As a student in Tokyo, he was expelled for protesting Japanese colonial rule of his native country and jailed for seven months.
Returning to Korea, he began teaching and writing poetry.
“Kim’s most famous poem is ‘Flower,’ which was written in his early days and showed the influence of the Austro-German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and the philosophy of existentialism. The poem has been ranked as a favorite poem among South Koreans….
“Concerning ‘Flower,’ Kim once said: ‘Some people view it as a poem of romance. In truth, however, it is philosophy about language and existentialism.’ ”
I found the translations of ‘Flower’ clunky. But here’s a lovely one, both floral and fit for today.
Whenever the wind shook it,
raised sorrowful sounds.
Cockscombs, lilies, balsams and the like
bloomed in season
and faded without a sound.
Even in cold midwinter,
the lonely sunshine dozed
on the stepping stones
and was gone.
Only time kept flowing listlessly;
people lived as in a dream
and passed away.
(Translated by Kim Jong-gil)
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Tucson Enjoys Fluttering Junket
The botanical gardens in Tucson, welcoming 400 chrysalides weekly through January, will be keeping these winged “internationals” under guard.
“Butterfly Magic at the Gardens” is featuring the emergence and short-life of more than 40 butterfly species from now through January 30th, with visitors from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Surinam and Thailand.
Blue Clearwing and Lantana Blossoms
Puerto Vicente, Ecuador
Photo: Hank and Priscilla Brodkin
It’s a post-9/11 climate, even for insects. “Vestibules at the entrance and exit of the exhibit are required by (U.S. Department of Agriculture) guidelines to guard against non-native butterflies escaping into the Sonoran Desert. Volunteers man each station to limit the number of visitors in the space at one time and to make sure the butterflies remain within.”
Of course, flowers are a big part of the show. Caterpillars feed on host plants like citrus trees and survive on the nectar of flowers. Lantana, passion-vine flowers and pentas are especially delicious to butterflies.
Here’s a terrific butterfly gardening site, with a chart showing which flowers attract which species.
And here’s a guide to native butterflies in all 50 United States. HFP visitors from outside the U.S., please send us your butterfly guides; USDA clearance NOT required.
A Double-Duty Bouquet
Ukraine’s parliament has refused to say “I do” to the results of the nation’s recent presidential election. In Lviv, a Ukrainian bride lodges her own protest, with a bouquet of orange roses—the color of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko.
Photo: Janek Skarzynski, AFP
Saturday, November 27, 2004
You See a Weed, They See World History
850 botanists are working for free to document The Flora of North America, a big job considering that just “The sunflower family has 2,438 species.”
Long feature stories are becoming rare as ginseng. So thanks to the L.A. Times for this in-depth report on a huge botanical research project, to record all the botanical species in North America.
Emily Green’s feature takes us all the way back to Swiss botanist Linnaeus, and probes the complexities of carrying out ambitious field work in, as they say, “the current economic climate.”
That climate—good for building Humvees, and for studying DNA and “solar space dust”—has not been kind to The Flora of North America endeavor, but the intrepid botanists whom Green profiles carry on.
Peter Stevens, a prickly Englishman who’s leading the decade-long expedition, described the fix that grant-poor botanists have found themselves in: “To me, to try and preserve things simply based on economic value is basically buying into the system that’s causing all the problems.”
To see how politics, economics, ecology, personality, and flowers bloom and wilt together, read this.