“Spring always seeming to one as if the flowers had been hiding, and only came out into the sun because they were afraid that grown-up people would grow tired of looking for them and give up the search…”
Oscar Wilde – De Profundis
(a gardener’s poem)
Bending, I watch you dance
Twist in the wind
Anchored by slender stems;
Barometers of spring blooming early,
Wearing hearts on your petals.
Things that harm us may seem sweet
But you’re not here to harm;
Any fool can see that. Continue reading “To Snowdrops Flowering Early”
Regular readers may remember that I’m English. I spell aluminium
all wrong the British way. We don’t get turkey in November over here, or the other traditional comfort foods of the American season that I’ve grown to love, like sweet potato casserole.
No, no, it’s OK. Don’t feel you have to sympathise. We’re British. We’re used to our food being rubbish and our beer hot.
I suppose you might say this ‘tender and succulent’ chicken pie is the British version of a Thanksgiving turkey and Waitrose’s save 50p offer the British equivalent of Black Friday. Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge: A Bargain”
I’ve been looking for pictures of plants to bring to life the garden created by Rappaccini, the twisted plant breeder of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fable, and ‘as true a man of science as ever distilled his own heart in an alembic’. Rappaccini, like Frankenstein, used science to create a monster: his beguiling, innocent, but deadly daughter Beatrice. He and his daughter tend a collection of poisonous plants with heady, intoxicating fragrances that can wither and kill. Continue reading “Recreating Rappaccini’s Garden: an Eden of Poisonous Flowers”
Gerard Manley Hopkins was an innovator who wrote about nature and faith, rapture and despair. For me, we are all eccentrics, all individuals. Not everyone will share this view, but Gerard Manley Hopkins was idiosyncratic on anyone’s terms, often to his cost.
While at Balliol College at Oxford, he converted to Catholicism, tearing himself from his artistic, loving Anglican family to a tougher life as a Jesuit. He never regretted his decision, but struggled with depression and the drudgery of some of his duties. Conflicted about whether writing was compatible with his vocation, he wrote relatively little after his conversion. At the time of his premature death in 1889 his work was largely unknown. Continue reading “Ten must-read Gerard Manley Hopkins poems: Poetry to scratch our bellies on”
I’m not a voracious reader of poetry, but my favourite love poems and lyrics are part of my life, drawing me back to revisit them at the slightest prompt. This spring, I witnessed the culmination of the weird lifecycle of cicadas in Jackson, Mississippi. These creatures spend 13 years underground as nymphs before emerging together for a brief period of sunlight, flight, singing and mating to continue the cycle.
As we drove around the neighbourhood with the windows down, lured like the lady cicadas to listen to the loud chorus centres of males in local groves of trees, lines from one of my favourite poems – Tithonus by Alfred, Lord Tennyson – drifted back into my mind. Continue reading “Tithonus: nature and poetry”
I found myself assuming today that all families have family words. Words that they have made up that others don’t understand. Words that bond and are part of the family culture.
For example my Great Grandma, who was very hospitable, used FHB as a code to her children when too many people presented themselves at tea time for the amount of food available – it meant Family Hold Back. If she said FHB, the family had to pretend to be full or only ask for a very small portion. Continue reading “Family words”