from The Black Tulip – The Feast of the Florists, Norwich (1631)

We live amid the frenzy of increase (Cannetti). Our pathology is wounded nature; our economic mode mania; our manner modification. Tulipomania is symbolic; the black tulip (tulipa negra) is paradoxical; there is nothing that lives that is coloured black. Perfect black, black death. – Alec Finlay

‘We finish by Art which Nature only projected’ – La Chesnée Monstereul

“Just then the Tulip Society of Haarlem offered a prize for the discovery (we dare not say the manufacture) of a large black tulip without a spot of colour, a thing which had not yet been accomplished, and was considered impossible, as at that time there did not exist a flower of that species approaching even to a dark nut brown. It was, therefore, generally said that the founders of the prize might just as well have offered two millions as a hundred thousand guilders, since no one would be able to gain it.” –

Alexandre Dumas

black tulip, curiosity

flower, pretty showy little shower

stem, hollow tunnel dark to light

bind, knotted wound tied around

scion, new branch or plant entire, perpetuating variety

offset, bulblets of a mother bulb, always show the same characteristics as the parent

modify, a change without transformation within

graft, stock & scion joined in union

breed, lottery

tulip, jewel

commodity, curiosity breeds acumen

market, friendly, lively, very lively, bull, euphoric, maniac

future, speculation, “the of the stock market was introduced into the of nature”
– Zbigniew Herbert

The complete text is published in EAST (2005)