REH Word of the Week: asphodel


1. Any of several chiefly Mediterranean plants of the genera Asphodeline and Asphodelus in the lily family; spring-flowering perennial with grey-green leaves and pale pink-grey-white flowers. The tubers are edible. 2. In Greek poetry and mythology, these were the flowers of Hades and the dead and were planted around tombs. This ghostly grey plant was believed to dominate the fields of the land of the dead. It was regarded as the food of the dead. (Source: Homer). 3. Sacred to Persephone & Hekate (statues of these goddesses were adorned with asphodel on the island of Rhodes). 4. In early English and French poetry, the daffodil.

[origin: Latin asphodelus, from Greek asphodelos]


I found an altar in a misty land
Where only dreamers’ feet have ever trod,
Where asphodels by ghostly winds were fanned
I found the altar of an ancient god.

Slim fluted marble pillars ringed the shrine,
The dim acanthus bloomed along the pave,
And close behind the sapphire altar, nine
Strange harps unseen a vibrant echo gave.

[from “Mad Meg Gill”; to read the complete poem see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 173]