Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
> Oh, I agree. I wasn't really trying to suggest that _alfirin_ = amaranth,
> since as I noted the colors aren't right (though Tolkien himself is
> apparently inconsistent about the color of this flower, which is gold --
> and bell-shaped -- in one place, white in another). I was more
> intrigued by 1) the meaning of the name _amraranth_ 'un-withering'
> and 2) its poetic associations with mortality and immortality in Milton
> and Aesop.
My impression is similar to what is stated by the _Online
> . . . from Gk. amarantos, lit. "everlasting," from a- "not" + stem of
> marainein "die away." In classical use, a poet's word for an imaginary
> flower that never fades. It was applied to a genus of ornamental plants
That is, the application to real-world plants is secondary.
I do not know where, but I think that some thirty years ago I
saw a reference to amaranth growing in the elysian fields along
with the more often mentioned asphodel, which always was also a
real-world plant. Asphodels are white or yellow; so _mallos_ might
possibly be an idealized asphodel that combines these colours, and
a fit companion to the amaranthine _alfirin_.