I distinctly remember pulling the petals off a daisy—over whatever boy was the object of my affections in a given youthful summer. But I never seemed to get the desired outcome. Should I start with “He Loves Me” or start with “He Loves Me Not?”
I suppose I could have counted the petals beforehand, applying some practical mathematics. Alas, at a tender age I was unlucky in love . . . unlucky in math, too, come to think of it.
He loves me. He loves me not.
This child’s play is actually a centuries-old game—thought to pre-date even 1800. See in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Tragedy of Faust, published in 1808, how it is an already established game. Excerpted and translated—Scene XII: The Garden
Faust: Sweet darling!
Margaret: Wait a moment! (She picks a Marguerite and pulls the petals off one by one.)
Faust: What’s that for, a bouquet?
Margaret: No, it’s a game.
Margaret: No, you’ll laugh if I say! (She pulls off the petals, murmuring to herself.)
Faust: What are you whispering?
Margaret: (Half aloud.) He loves me – he loves me not.
Faust: You sweet face that Heaven forgot!
Margaret: (Continuing.) Loves me – Not – Loves me – Not
He loves me!
Faust: Yes, my child! Let this flower-speech
Be heaven’s speech to you. He loves you!
Do you know what that means? He loves you!
Also readable through Project Gutenberg.
Picture source: ‘Vortesteur’, Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike
Nancy R. Peck