Fragrance of Azahar-Rowland Thirlmere

The country between Benifayo and Algemesi, which I last saw on a tempestuous November day, literally submerged in a riot of tumbling red waters, surprised us with its opulence. The rich and friable soil is of a fine Indian red, and appears to be capable of producing magnificent fruits and people with equal ease. Its oranges are splendid. Several times we alighted to buy them. The poignant scent of the orange blossom made us hungry for more. It seemed so good to be feeding on the product of flowers that exhaled such sweetness! There was no fear of death in that odour. The smell of ethereal sherry in a bodega first exhilarates, then depresses, and, all conditions being favourable, ultimately kills. Hyacinths in a closed room may subtly slay; the perfume of almond oil may be fatal. Pope Alexander and the other infamous Borgias may have used these poisonous scents, but they could never kill their victims with the orange-flower. Were it possible to die from the inhalation of this fragrance, that is the death I would choose. "Slain by the scent of the azahar" would make a most original verdict for a coroner's jury.

There had been heavy rain,, and the splendid masses of larkspur in the park were somewhat bedraggled, and splashed with mud. The continual breath of roses made the air heavy and relaxing; whilst the still more penetrating odour of the orange blossoms sweetened the atmosphere so much that one's mind became full of an indescribable imaginative tumult, and one's senses seemed to faint in a riot of recollections and anticipations. The quintessential fragrance of old romance pulsed through the delicious air; for the exquisitely fragrant petals of the azahar flowers were drying in the intermittent bursts of sunlight, and, to my mind, there is no bloom in this glorious world with so powerful and so poignant a sweetness as that possessed by the bridal orange-blossom—the azahar of the Moors.