WPC: Purple (or Lavender)

There is some uncertainty as to what the word for lavender derives from.  If it’s the Latin livere for “blueish” then the reference is no doubt skewed by comparison with the Tyrian purple of emperors, which was somewhat lacking in the indigo part of the spectral mix.1 As for the later confirmation of the “Lavender’s Blue”  folk song …well it’s obviously because there are no English rhyming words for purple!

lavender in the herb garden of geffrye museumThe plant genus Lavandra most likely takes its meaning from the verb lavare (to wash), given that the Romans used the flower essence as a cool, calm and cleansing bath oil. A wood pigeon bathing in the herb garden’s water feature aptly illustrates this connotation – and rather beautifully too, with a  pinky mauve breast and  gloss green neck, which  has a definite purple sheen.
wood pigeon bathing in water feature with lavender

In the scorching heat of a late July afternoon the lavender is a purple-haze of colours, ranging from washed out mauves and lilacs to the indigo-violet saturations of the cooler corners. The shadows at least are incontrovertibly purple and that’s good enough for the WP Weekly photo challenge.

lavender blooms and purple shadowsthe lavender blooms in a shadowed instant
while we stalk past along the path
its fragile strength surpassing ours…
we pass over them, unblinkingly,
free beauty ignored.3

1. “the ancient land of Canaan (Phoenicia, which means “land of the purple”) was the centre of the ancient purple dye industry. The city of Tyr was especially famous for producing the dye; thus the name “Tyrian”. “Tyrian Purple” was produced from the mucus of marine mollusks, notably the Murex…Consequently, the colour produced in that process wasn’t “purple” as we understand purple: the Roman natural historian Pliny described it as the colour of clotted blood: a dark crimson or even maroon” . More
2. Alexis Jennelle poem: Natural


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