POPPIES

I love the time of year-mid May- when poppies first appear in our garden. I remember them so often as I passed them in fields scattered among the wheat on the road between North Berwick and Edinburgh. Here is a poem on poppies.

Poppies

You are not
simple indiscretions at a summer fete
shunned by suburban florists

You are
gregarious rebels
anarchists in Nature's hierarchy.

Inveterate guerillas against camouflage
You open reckless, bloody wounds
among fields of smug corn.

You will always be
a conflagration of heartache
reeking of drowsy Keats
emblem both of Remembrance and Oblivion.

My pets, my feral poppies.

Christopher Morgan “Poppies” from “Stalking the A4″Edgeways The Brynmill Press 2009

The poem so wittily presents the contrasts and contradictions the flower represents. Offset against the decorous tidiness of the show flowers of the fete and against the fields of “smug corn” are the suggestions of the wild untameability of the flower against all our instincts to regulate and order nicely. How wonderfully right is that word “conflagration” ( the long four syllables containing the word “flag” which occasions the outburst of various feelings and associations the flower can set off as it spreads here and there in the fields).

Pets, of course, are not by definition feral but by our love of the flowers we seek to contain, while recognising we cannot contain their wild unpredictable manifestation of life.

But ignore me just go back to the poem and draw from its profuse richness!

For readers unaware of the allusion to Keats it comes from the second stanza of “To Autumn” where Keats is seeking to personify Autumn by representing the range of harvest activities.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on ahalf-reap’d furrow sound asleep

Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cider-press, with a patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

 

 

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