There is an old legend that tells the sad tale of how the ‘Forget~Me~Not’ gained its name. The story is of a lady who one evening whilst strolling beside the river Danube with her gallant knight Rondolf spotted a pretty blue flower. It’s beauty stopped her in her tracks and Rondolf could not resist reaching out to collect it for her.
Unfortunately he slips on the muddy bank, falling into the water. He manages to throw the flower to his fair maid shouting “Forget-me-not.” Sadly all she can do is clutch the flower to her breast as she watches her beloved dragged beneath the waves by his heavy armour and carried away never to be seen again.
The story is immortalised in a wonderful piece of floral poetry by Miss Pickergill which is featured in ‘The Poetry of the Flowers’ by Mrs C.N. Kirtland 1800
The Bride of the Danube (Forget-Me-Not)
By Miss Pickersgill
(Featured in Mrs Kirtlands ‘Poetry of Flowers’)
“See how yon glittering wave in sportive play
Washes the bank, and steals the flowers away.
And must they thus in bloom and beauty die.
Without the passing tribute of a sigh?”
“No, Bertha, those young flowerets there
Shall form a braid for thy sunny hair;
I yet will save one, if but one
Soft smile reward me when ’tis done.”
He said, and plunged into the stream
His only light was the moon’s pale beam.
” Stay! stay! “she cried—but he had caught
The drooping flowers, and breathless sought
To place the treasures at the feet
Of her from whom e’en death were sweet.
With outstretched arms upon the shore she stood,
With tearful eye she gazed upon the flood.
Whose swelling tide now seemed as if ‘twould sever
Her faithful lover from her arms forever.
Still through the surge he panting strove to gain
The welcome strand—but, ah! he strove in vain !
Yet once the false stream bore him to the spot
Where stood his bride in muteness of despair:
And scarcely had he said, “ Forget me not !”
And flung the dearly ransomed flowerets there,
When the dark wave closed o’er him, and no more
Was seen young Rodolph on the Danube’s shore.
Aghast she stood; she saw the tranquil stream
Pass o’er him—could it be a fleeting dream?
Ah, no! the last fond words, “ Forget me not !”
Told it was all a sad reality.
With frantic grasp the dripping flowers she prest.
Too dearly purchased, to her aching breast.
Alas! her tears, her sorrows now were vain.
For him she loved she ne’er shall see again!
Is this then a bridal, where, sad in her bower.
The maid weeps alone at the nuptial hour;
Where hushed is the harp, and silent the lute
Ah! why should their thrilling strains be mute?
And where is young Rodolph? where stays the bridegroom?
Go, ask the dark waters, for there is his tomb.
Often at eve when maidens rove
Beside the Danube’s wave,
They tell the tale of hapless love,
And show young Rodolph’s grave;
And cull the flowers from that sweet spot.
Still calling them ” Forget-me-not.”