An Excerpt from The Sultan's Daughter:
In the selamlik, I hunted for the fine Chinese vase in its usual place in the wall niche, but it wasn't there. I was about to call for Ali to ask where it might be when I saw it already out--placed curiously on the top of a low wooden chest. There were flowers in it, too, and they seemed very fresh. They couldn't have been cut any earlier than that very morning. And it was a very curious bouquet altogether, not unattractive or slovenly, but very masculine. It consisted of only one flower--an ox-eye daisy--which was flanked on one side by a leaf of a plane tree, and on the other by a spring of cypress
"Now I see," I thought. "My mistress has taken pity on our guest's poor hand at arranging flowers, and thought it only polite to send him others."
But that thought hardly lived to take a breath before I knew it would not do, and condemned it, like some preIslamic father his unwanted girl-child, to the dust. In its place came, for no apparent reason, the lines of the Persian poet , so popular in the Turkish harems:
I cried so much that I heard
moaning and wailing from the cypresses.
They confided in me and said,
'O that your heart could find peace with us,
For your beloved was flourishing, and so are we.
She was tall, and we are a hundred times taller.'
Often since I'd first heard that poem recited, I had listened for "moaning and wailing from the cypresses" as a wind passed, and often thought, like the poet, of my love who was tall and fair, but now no more. And, like the poet, I had sadly whispered back to the trees:
But what use are you to me
When it comes to kisses?
So it was not strange that now, as I reached out to remove the cypress sprig from the vase, that the lines should come to me again. What was strange was that I should also remember that the cypress, because it never loses its leaves like other trees, was often used by poets as a symbol of eternity.
Plane leaves and ox-eyes also their set meanings in the intricate melodies of romantic verse: the first, because it resembles a hand, means touch or holding, and the flower is an emblem for the beloved's face.
Now I suddenly saw clearly that there was no coincidence here at all. The odd assortment of plants had been chosen and arranged with exquisite care and the message read: plane leaf, ox-eye, cypress, "I will hold the image of my beloved's face in my hand forever."