The Blooms from Ipomoea

While the history of the ‘British Invasion’ — the arrival of the Beatles and other British musical groups on American shores in the 1960s — is familiar enough, the British weren’t the only new arrivals.

The Brazilians — particularly João and Astrud Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Sergio Mendes/Brasil ’66 — introduced a music perfectly suited for summer’s easy afternoons and languid evenings. Astrud Gilberto wasn’t the girl from Ipanema, but her association with the song has endured, and the performance linked above may be her most charming. Her English lyrics are perfectly understandable, and the Portuguese has a poetic lilt discernible even for those who don’t speak the language.

Olha que coisa mais linda
Mais cheia de graça
É ela a menina que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço a caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda que eu já vi passar
Ah, por que estou tão sózinho?
Ah, por que tudo é tão triste?
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha

Que também passa sozinha
Ah, se ela soubesse
Que quando ela passa
O mundo sorrindo se enche de graça

E fica mais lindo por causa do amor

“The Girl From Ipanema” has been one of my favorites since its introduction. I’ve listened to it so many times that it often rises unbidden into consciousness, and every year, when the variety of flowers in the genus Ipomoea begin blooming, it comes to mind again. Finally, it seemed as though a new version of the song was in order: one designed to celebrate the flowers. It’s easy enough to meld new lyrics with the music, and you might enjoy following along with mine.

Ipomoea imperati ~ Beach Morning Glory
Long and thin and filled with color
The vines of Ipomoea go twining,
And where they wander
The dunes they cover go, “Ah!”
Ipomoea sagittata ~ Saltmarsh Morning Glory
As they flower a light scent lingers
above the flow of wood-green waters,
And where it rises
The morning breezes go, “Ah!”
Ipomoea pandurata ~ Wild Sweet Potato
Oh, but they watch us so sadly.
How can they know that we love them?
Yes, they would give their hearts gladly,
But each day as we walk past their vines
we give them a glance, but no time.
Ipomoea cordatotriloba ~ Tie Vine
Rose and white and blue and purple
The blooms of Ipomoea unfurl
And when we’re passing they shine,
But we never see
We just cannot see
No we dare not see
We so rarely see.
Ipomoea imperati ~ Beach Morning Glory


Comments always are welcome.

68 thoughts on “The Blooms from Ipomoea

    1. I read that article, and a couple of others, just last night. I was lucky enough to have a father who was a jazz fan, and who brought the Getz/Gilberto album home. It was an interesting experience to hear different versions of the popular song. Eventually, my mother started listening to Sergio Mendes; it was oddly pleasing to hear her working in the kitchen singing her version of “Mas que nada.”

  1. How clever of you to confound Ipomoea with Ipanema, and to write botanical lyrics for that well-known song. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen/heard the original Portuguese lyrics, which the popular English version loosely matches.

    You got me wondering whether any Ipomoea species grow in Brazil, so I searched and found that some do, including the recently discovered Ipomoea bonsai.

    1. One of the journal articles about I. bonsai that I skimmed included this somehow pleasing line: “Ipomoea stands out for having large numbers of unidentified or misidentified specimens in herbaria.” Apparently even the specialists don’t always get it right. This site had some interesting photos of the plant in nature, but it was quite something to see images of Ipomoea cultivated as bonsai. I never would have expected this. It’s a different species, but the same technique.

  2. Very clever, indeed, Linda.
    I’ll never go early morning beachcombing again without passing a beach morning glory and thinking of the Girl from Ipanema.
    Oh, by the way, thanks for today’s “earworm.”

    1. Some connections seem so natural it’s impossible not to play with them, and the Ipanema/Ipomoea connection was one. Beyond that, it’s hot, and sticky, and lassitude is setting in. Brazilian jazz makes for perfect listening and better than average earworms, especially when combined with a Campari and soda.

    1. I do sing, but my voice isn’t what it used to be. I think we’d need to engage someone else to do the honors. It was fun to write the new lyrics, not to mention combing my archives to see what Ipomoea images I had that might do.

    1. The flowers’ family resemblance certainly is clear, isn’t it? I had fun writing the song, although the last two lines of the third stanza took more time than all the rest of it together. No matter — once I had the connection in my mind, I had to work it out before I could move on to something else. I suspect you know something about that.

    1. If I started singing to the flowers, people might think I’m even quirkier than they do now. On the other hand, when I come across beauties like this there usually isn’t anyone else around, so why not? Given a little attention, the flowers might even start dancing.

        1. I had no idea that Chad and Jeremy recorded a version of this. The song of theirs I most clearly remember is “Summer Song.” It came out in the summer of 1964, between my high school graduation and departure for college. A lot of us listened to it with a feeling we couldn’t quite identify — now, I know it was nostalgia.

            1. Beautiful song. Another favorite of mine you may remember is “Farewell to the North.” I think that was the Great Speckled Bird days.

  3. It is so easy to pass through life without seeing the wonder around us. These simple lyrics (original and yours) are a reminder of the beauty, and the inner peace it brings, if only we open our eyes while on our journey.
    Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome. We all need reminders. That’s why I keep a quotation from Georgia O’Keeffe on my refrigerator (“Take time to see”) and re-read the chapter on seeing from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek at least two or three times a year. Learning to see any ‘thing’ in isolation is a first step, but beginning to glimpse its interconnections with the rest of the world — including us! — is quite another.

    1. Ipomoea is the genus, and all of these flowers are different species within the genus. The flowers can look remarkably similar, but there are little clues that help to differentiate them. Look at the leaves in the photo of the Saltmarsh Morning Glory: Ipomoea sagittata. It got its species name because someone imagined its leaves look like arrow heads; the word is derived from the Latin sagittārius , which means ‘pertaining to arrows.’ I first learned that connection when I was learning the constellations, and discovered Sagittarius, the Archer.

    1. In the process of writing this, I learned there are 600 or so species in the Ipomoea genus. The pretty blue or purple ones that often are cultivated in gardens are I. purpurea, and they’re just as pretty. Of course, when I think of the flowers, I always remember the way my dad would encourage me out of bed, saying, “Morning, Glory!”

  4. What a link with these two words–you’re so smart! I also like your version of the song, but it’s hard to beat Astrud. Do you remember that my older cat is named after Astrud Gilberto? Meow!

    1. Smart, maybe — or just the possessor of a quirky mind! I’d forgotten that your cat’s named Astrud, but now that you mention it, I do remember us talking about it. It’s a great name. Does she have an especially musical meow?

    1. Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe when you’re down by your newly-developing pond, you’ll be similarly inspired. We never know when inspiration is going to strike, but it certainly can lead to some good fun when it does.

    1. Thanks, Becky. Song-writing and story-telling have a lot in common, even when, as in this case, the song is a sort-of-parody rooted in an already excellent song.

  5. I have a Rosemary Clooney album (perhaps her last?) where she sings this song. Her voice is elderly, but still compelling. I love your version though! Mike makes up lyrics to songs all the time, so I am very familiar with this practice.

    1. I think you’re too young to have grown up with the Rosemary Clooney show on tv. It was in the late 1950s, as I recall; we still were in our family’s first house, with our first tv. I still remember some of her songs: “Buttons and Bows,” and “Mambo Italiano.” Great music. Does Mike have a certain kind of song he likes to compose, or just whatever strikes him at the moment?

      1. He has a wide range – and mostly just composes on the spot based on the situation. I’ll have to see if I can find an example for you – I’m pretty sure I posted one on FB one time, but finding it will be a trick!

    1. And they do help to make the mornings glorious! As pretty as wisteria is, morning glories would look great draped over the pergola at your sitting area.

    1. The Getz/Gilberto album was played often in our household, and my dad, who was a jazz fan, thought Getz was one of the best. My instrument was the clarinet, but there was a brief period when he tried to get me to change to saxophone. I countered with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Pete Fountain, and prevailed.

  6. Leave it to Linda to find a connection between Morning Glories and The Girl from Ipanema. (Or to even know the formal family name for Morning Glories.) Not to mention, simply dashing off new lyrics for the melody with a botanic beat.

    1. I do get a kick out of little projects like this, and it’s true that the once the concept was clear, most of the lyrics came pretty easily. On the other hand, the last two lines of the third stanza got messed with a good bit, and finally changed completely after a good night’s sleep. Sometimes my brain works best on the night shift.

  7. You have many species of Ipomoea there… very pretty… most are annuals here, due to our cold winters, with only one or two that self-sow. I do love seeing them twining up posts and trellises.

    1. I grew up in Iowa with morning glories as an annual, and honestly had no idea there were native varieties that would self-seed and endure from one season to the next until I moved to Texas. They’re beautiful flowers, that’s for sure.

  8. Interesting Association you’ve made between Ipomoea with Ipanema. Garota de Ipanema expresses the very sprit of my home town. Although the translated lyrics is mostly correct, so much is lost in translation of poetry. After reading this, I do miss home!

    1. Of course I thought of you while I was putting this post together. You’re certainly right about the difficulties of translating poetry; it’s one reason I often compare translations. There can be some surprising differences, that’s for sure.

      As for missing home, when I listen to this music I feel a bit of nostalgia for your home as well — and I’ve never been there!

  9. I just photographed the relative field false bindweed yesterday. All white and not nearly as lovely as some of those you shared. No music filled my ears then aside from bird song. But I’ll be humming this tune for while through the day. In doing some Googling about the song and record, by Joao and Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, the ‘B’ side was Getz’ version of “Blowin in the Wind”. Interesting pairing.

    1. We do have some lovely morning glories, as well as various primroses that are early morning bloomers. I laughed at myself when I woke last night about 3 a.m. with “The Girl From Ipanema” playing in my head. ‘Earworm’ certainly is the right word.

      I had no idea about that ‘B’ side. For some reason, that seems like an odd choice, but of course that song also was immensely popular at the time.

    1. There’s a real sense of movement in them, isn’t there? Anyone who’s watched tendrils move through an area knows how much energy these plants contain.

  10. Well done Linda — and so very clever! These are beauties, that’s for sure.They remind me very much of the Morning Glories we have here.

    1. The blue and purple morning glories I grew up with and that you’re probably most familiar with are in the same family. I love to see the cultivated ones on trellises and such; these natives are just as pretty, and just as enthusiastic in their twining and climbing.

    1. Thanks, Dina. It was fun to play with the lyrics; some songs are easier to revise than others, and this one seemed perfectly suited for an adaptation. It was a good way to show off the flowers, too!

  11. Very nice intermixing of music, poetry and photography. Morning glories always make me think of my folks blueberry bushes because the morning glories very much like to rise up and take over everything around them so they have to constantly be cut back and ripped out just to return again and again. And as much work as they create I can’t help but enjoy viewing their blooms.

    1. They’re enthusiastic growers, there’s no question about that. I’ve seen all of these native species twining and climbing, but none seem to be quite as aggressive as the ones that harass gardeners. I really enjoy morning glory buds, too. They’re such nice, svelte packages, and especially pretty when a bit of color is peeking through.

  12. I vividly remember first hearing Astrid Gilberto at a wedding in London in my late teens. My favourite is Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars). Lovely flowers too!

    1. That’s another beautiful song. Of course as soon as I listened to “The Girl From Ipanema” I began a listening marathon, and was reminded of a number of songs that I’d forgotten. Did you have the chance to hear her in person? That would be even more special.

      1. No, I didn’t but you are right. I remember being secretly impressed how sophisticated it sounded compared to the music I was listening to.

    1. I didn’t know until a few years ago that the goat’s foot morning glories are purple, and named for the shape of their leaves. Their scientific name is Ipomoea pes-caprae, while the white ones, which are so very similar, are Ipomoea imperati. I suspect most people use the common names interchangeably. I don’t have a single photo of the goat’s foot, or I would have included it here. It just hasn’t been around when I’ve been at the beach.

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