the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Lillies of the Valley


A few days ago, Javacurls left this comment on a post about Sophia:

Oh Neil, I’m so sorry to hear about Sophia. I will keep you both in my prayers.

Sophia: On May 1st, Lily of the Valley flowers are sold on the streets of France & Belgium as part of the May Day celebration.   Friends & family give each other Lily of the Valley flowers as they are believed to bring good luck throughout the year.  So tomorrow I’ll purchase a bunch in your name in hopes that it will bring you lots of luck & hope. Hang in there.

The next day, Javacurls sent Sophia this email:

Hi Sophia,

I hope all the well wishes have brightened your day. Like I promised (per Neil’s comments) here are the Lily of the Valley flowers I’m virtually sending you so they may bring you the good luck that the French & Belgians believe they bring each year.

Take care,

Sophia LOVES flowers.   Sophia’s email back to Javacurls:

Dear Javacurls,
This was so fantastic and really cheered me up!  I never see those flowers in the States, and I wasn’t familiar with a flower with this name, but when I was a little girl in Odessa, I remember my mother loving this song about a guy bringing his girlfriend Lily of The Valley flowers, and not red roses or carnations (it’s called LAHN-dishi in Russian) and that the flowers are a greeting from the warm month of May.  So, when I saw your picture, I immediately knew what it was.
Thank you so much, and as you can see — I made it into my desktop theme, so I can look at them all the time.


Sophia then spent an hour searching for this song on the internet.   Sophia’s email to Javacurls:

Dear Javacurls,
See?  …you inspired me, so I went on Google and started searching for Russian Retro songs, and I found that old song my mom loved, when she was young.   I am attaching it for you.   Here’s the mp3.   It must be from the late fifties or early sixties, I think.
And just for your wonderful gesture, I translated the entire song (very roughly) for you:

What you brought me today, wasn’t a bouquet of magnificent roses,
Or tulips, or calla lilies.
Very timidly you extended your hand with these very modest flowers,
But they are so charming.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
They are Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet
Even though their outfit isn’t extravagant,
Their aroma is so gentle and tender;
They embody the charm of spring,
Like a song without words,
Like a first love,
Like a first confession of feelings
They are Lilies of the Valley,
They are Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet
I don’t believe that time dissipates feelings.
I have another opinion:
I believe that every year
Even when many years pass,
Come Spring, You’ll give me:
Lilies of the Valley,
Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet

Ты сегодня мне принёс
Не букет из пышных роз,
Не тюльпаны и не лилии.
Протянул мне робко ты
Очень скромные цветы,
Но они такие милые.

Ландыши, ландыши –
Светлого мая привет.
Ландыши, ландыши –
Белый букет.

Пусть неярок их наряд,
Но так нежен аромат;
В них весны очарование.
Словно песенка без слов,
Словно первая любовь,
Словно первое признание.

Я не верю, что года
Гасят чувства иногда.
У меня другое мнение:
Верю, будешь каждый год,
Пусть хоть много лет пройдёт,
Ты дарить мне в дни весенние.

Yours, Sophia


  1. Javacurls

    I’m so happy Sophia enjoyed the virtual flowers! I really do hope they bring her good luck!

    The lyrics to the song are just beautiful but listening to the actual song made it really come alive! Thanks again!

  2. ExpatJane

    What a nice story!

    I’m glad Javacurls could cheer Sophia up and how great is it that the flowers reminded her of home and family.

    Thanks for sharing the song! I’ll share it with my Russian friends!

  3. tamarika

    Am enjoying the song. Thanks Sophia and Neilochka. What an interesting story. I have so many Lily of the Valley plants growing under the tree in my little yard. As they begin to bloom, each and every one, will remind me of Sophia and you, Neil, and keep you both in my thoughts.

  4. sarah

    As I said you’ve been in my prayers : ) I hope that everything went alright! What a beautiful gesture, and really a sweet song! Thank you for sharing!

  5. better safe than sorry

    i have those in my garden bed, they are a sign of spring and the scent is wonderful but i love the gesture done here, on both parts.

  6. alissa

    I adore lillies of the valley, my parents have some in their yard and they smell so wonderful. What a beautiful gesture and song!

  7. plain jane

    How lovely. How thoughtful.

  8. girl and dog

    That is so beautiful!! Hugs to Sophia, hang in there!

  9. Sizzle

    thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  10. wendy

    This inspired me so. I have left you a little something over at my blog..It was written for you both. Upon was written for us all..

    Such great people out there..I am blown away.

  11. sandra

    Sophia rocks. You rock. Bloggers who are sending good thoughts (and flowers) to Sophia rock.

    I’m in a very good mood today.

  12. Bryna

    This is so sweet… it made me happy. Lilies of the Valley remind me of my childhood because my parents have them in their garden. I would pick them for my mom (as if she didn’t know where I got them…) and she always accepted graciously.

    Thanks for bringing the Lilies of the Valley to more than just Sophia! 🙂

  13. Churlita

    Sophia is incredible. We’re supposed to be cheering her up, and she goes and cheers us all up.

  14. Roberta

    As I was scrolling down on my way to say ‘Sophia rocks. You rock.’ and more, I saw Sandra’s comment.

    What she said. all of it.

  15. Dana

    Serendipity . . . being on the same wavelength. I ran right out to see if our lilies are blooming, but only the leaves are beginning to spiral up. Now I look forward to them as I never have before. Even better, it’s Poetry Thursday and here are lyrics in Russian and English! Thanks for the enrichment.

  16. Irina

    I love that song!!!

    I never realized that the flowers mentioned there and lilies of the valley (I’ve never seen them) are one and the same.

    Thanks for making the connection!

  17. V-Grrrl

    I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with Javacurls here in Belgium, and I’m not at all surprised by her kindness. : )

  18. psychomom


  19. Joan

    Neil, please give Sophia a hug from me. I haven’t been keeping up, and just found out today she is ill. If it’s any help.. two of my best friends are long time cancer surviours, and I wish her the same results.

  20. Pearl

    A virtual bouquet of flowers. How lovely. Glad they brightened Sophia’s day…and ours!

  21. kristen

    I like this story so very much. This is the second time this week I’ve read online about lilies of the valley. I love their fragrance and tried to have them for my wedding flowers. Considering we got married in late August, roses were the more appropriate (and boring) choice.

  22. Chicagoist

    Neil, get out of the way…

    Sophia, only a good man can love a great woman. Courage to you and your loved one. Texas hold ’em is the way to go.

  23. tamar

    Look at how giving begets giving begets giving. You, Neil, gave your readers an essential truth in your life right now. And a reader was touched to give hope and encouragement. And Sophia’s soul was touched by the gift and the memories triggered, and on and on. Like Chad Gadya in the Passover song cycle at the end of the Seder. One deed leads to another, usually in kind. Thanks to everyone.

  24. question girl

    absolutly beautiful

  25. Rob Kistner

    That was wonderful! Thanks for sharing.


  26. Susan

    man, that took me forever to read in russian. i took russian in college for 2 semesters. but now i can barely read and that’s about it.

  27. gautami

    Great lyrics. Thanks for translating.

    Though I did not understand it, I liked the music.

  28. SJ

    Lilies of the Valley were my mother’s favorite flower. I remember her growing them in Illinois when I was little. There’s a wonderful fragrance that was popular in the ’70s called Muguet des Bois that smells wonderful (but not really like its namesake).

    Sending positive vibes to Sophia.

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