IRIS is often the answer to the crossword clue
[Pupil’s place] or [Bearded bloom]

IRIS crossword eye part rainbow goddess murdoch divine messenger pupil showy bloomer bearded William Morris
One of William Morris‘s many Iris designs. If the flower looks French it’s because it’s the IRIS that’s depicted on the [Fleur-de-lys], not the lily. image via Ebay

Though just ten days into the new year, last week felt so long and dismal I’m ready to turn my gaze to the [Spring flower] that’s also an [Eye part], the IRIS.

Almost any IRIS variety would qualify as a [Showy bloomer]. And the Volunteer State is not specific about which of the many irides in particular is the [State flower of Tennessee].

IRIS is the name of a genus of about 250-300 plants, divided into a half-dozen subgenera. The largest subgenus, also called Iris, contains the many varieties that [Blossom with a “beard”].

The flower is named after the [Divine messenger], Iris. The Greek [Rainbow goddess] who links gods and humans, and links Greek to English. The word “iris,” which continues to mean [Rainbow].

IRIS crossword eye part rainbow goddess murdoch divine messenger pupil showy bloomer bearded
Venus supported by Iris, complaining to Mars, by George Hater (1820)

The [Flower girl’s name?] is also linked to the [Novelist Murdoch].

There was a 2001 biopic about Murdoch titled Iris, directed by Richard Eyre. Somehow this totally escaped me. It makes IRIS

  • [Murdoch who was played by Judi Dench],
  • [Murdoch played by Kate Winslet],
  • and the [Movie for which Jim Broadbent won his Oscar].

IRIS Murdoch crossword eye part rainbow goddess Lucian Freud Renee Bolinger
IRIS [Murdoch who received the 1978 Booker Prize for “The Sea, the Sea”], in the style of Lucian Freud, by Renée Jorgensen

The “rainbow” nature of IRIS accounts for its use meaning the [Colored part of the eye]. Thus it’s also

  • [Pupil’s place]
  • [Eye opener?]
  • and [Part of eye makeup?]
IRIS crossword eye part rainbow goddess murdoch
image via

So while IRIS is certainly an [Apt name for a botanist], it’s also spot-on for an optometrist, or a student.

Be a doll and check this out

The iris controls the size of the black hole in the eye’s center, the PUPIL [It grows in the dark]. This [Eye part] and its homonym—the [Person at a desk]—come from the pupa, Latin for “little girl” or “doll.”

The connection is made clear by looking into another’s eye and noticing your own tiny reflection in the pupil.

Like a PUPA–the [Insect stage] for a [Cocoon occupant]–the word pupa has grown and metamorphosed. It’s at the center of PUPPY [A little husky?] and [Young boxer, e.g.] (the latter clue also works for ROO) and PUPPET [Punch, e.g.].