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.
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.