The Protea is the national flower of South Africa. It is a particular requirement of the seeds of the Protea to be exposed to the intense heat of a fire, before it will germinate. It takes about five years from germination for the young plant to start flowering. The natural life cycle of the Protea is approximately fifteen years – and this coincides with the natural tendency of mountain fires to occur every ten to fifteen years. Mountains and rocky slopes are the natural habitat of Proteas. It is a winter flowering plant. The Protea takes its name from the mythical figure, Proteus:The German mystical alchemist Heinrich Khunrath wrote of the shape-changing sea-god who, because of his relationship to the sea, is both a symbol of the unconscious as well as the perfection of the art. Alluding to the scintilla, the spark from ‘the light of nature’ and symbol of the anima mundi, Khunrath in Gnostic vein stated of the Protean element Mercury:our Catholick Mercury, by virtue of his universal fiery spark of the light of nature, is beyond doubt Proteus, the sea god of the ancient pagan sages, who hath the key to the sea and …power over all things.—Von Hyleanischen Chaos, Carl Jung, vol. 14:50The poet John Milton, aware of the association of Proteus with the Hermetic art of alchemy, wrote in Paradise Lost of alchemists who sought the philosopher's stone:In vain, though by their powerful Art they bindVolatile Hermes, and call up unboundIn various shapes old Proteus from the Sea,Drain'd through a Limbec to his native form.— John Milton, Paradise Lost, III.603–06
Below is the poem entitled Proteas which was written by poet
Richards. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.
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Proteas in bloom
line the steep mountain path -
five years since the fire
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