Running errands in the biting sleet when a burst of lapis caught my eye. Several moments later, I recognized that color, skidded to a halt, and backtracked to the deli that was displaying the first hyacinth of the late winter season. I had to stick my nose far into the buckets filled with plastic-wrapped bouquets and inhale that deep, rich fragrance. I am always up for a heady snort, whether it comes courtesy of gardenias, tea olive, or lilacs. Remember when roses were lusty? Poor dears. Just as the petals of the forced paperwhites are becoming threadbare, hyacinths burst into the scene.
T.S. Eliot has it right, of course. From The Waste Land:
" 'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.'
-Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, and I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence."
The web makes tracing the connections through poetry easy; if you like this sort of thing (and I do) follow the link to Tennyson's Mariana. Pound, reading a draft of The Waste Land, assumed the hyacinth girl was Mariana, abandoned in her "lonely moated grange". She may also have been a woman Eliot adored; he was too frightened to declare himself.
Hyacinths are not for the faint of heart. And neither is love.