Valentines Treats

AinSakri

The Ain Sakhri Lovers: British Museum The oldest image of lovers we have.

 

Valentine ; by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Flowers

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Death in Paradise

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As I set up my compost pots and plant my seeds for the coming season I am pondering the rabbit issue.  The word paradise is derived from the Persian word for a Garden.  A garden is the ultimate symbol of man’s dominion over nature.  We build a fence or a wall to surround a patch of land.  Then we drive out the wild influences and cultivate what lies within.  The vegetables are larger, fleshier and sweeter than what grows out in the wild.  The fruits are more succulent and delicate.  The flowers are bigger and brighter.

To create this wonderful space is a statement of the control of man.  This control is represented at its greatest in the gardens of the Augustan period (early 18th Century), paved walkways, symmetrical and geometric layouts, neat box hedges, espaliered fruit trees, pulses supported by cane frames, clear boundaries between the area under control and the wilderness outside.  During the Augustan period this control was celebrated as beauty.  Wildness was represented as ugly.  It was not until the Romantic period that wild spaces and unregulated nature were appreciated.

Control of a garden also involved control of pests.  These can be very small pests, like greenfly, wireworms, codling moth larva.  They can also be much larger pests such as rabbits, dogs, deer and even certain types of people.

The poem below is the sad tale of a dog who had a good thing going until he made the mistake of becoming a garden pest.

A Dog’s Mistake: by Banjo Patterson

He had drifted in among us as a straw drifts with the tide,
He was just a wand’ring mongrel from the weary world outside;
He was not aristocratic, being mostly ribs and hair,
With a hint of spaniel parents and a touch of native bear.
He was very poor and humble and content with what he got,
So we fed him bones and biscuits, till he heartened up a lot;
Then he growled and grew aggressive, treating orders with disdain,
Till at last he bit the butcher, which would argue want of brain.

Now the butcher, noble fellow, was a sport beyond belief,
And instead of bringing actions he brought half a shin of beef,
Which he handed on to Fido, who received it as a right
And removed it to the garden, where he buried it at night.

‘Twas the means of his undoing, for my wife, who’d stood his friend,
To adopt a slang expression, “went in off the deepest end”,
For among the pinks and pansies, the gloxinias and the gorse
He had made an excavation like a graveyard for a horse.

Then we held a consultation which decided on his fate:
‘Twas in anger more than sorrow that we led him to the gate,
And we handed him the beef-bone as provision for the day,
Then we opened wide the portal and we told him, “On your way.”

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The March of Time

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So here we are on the 31st of March and we reach my favourite time of year.  The clock has sprung forward and at last it feels that we have bested the winter and emerged again into the world.  The spring flowers are brightening up the sere landscape and the first tender buds are emerging from the hawthorns.

Time to get busy in the garden sowing the new season vegetables.  We play the annual game of chance with the weather.  When to plant out the seedlings nurtured in the conservatory?  Too late and they become pot bound.  Too early and we risk a late frost carrying them off and ruining weeks of work.

Frost and Spring….reminds me of a poem….

March 26th 1974 (R.Frost 100th B’day): by Richard Wilbur

The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In wet dull pastures where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch, and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law?
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream.
There was a subtle flood of stream
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter’s giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.

18th of September

Dyingflower

Flowers at the end of Summer

in a last desperate blooming,

livid, harsh and beautiful,

like a gaudy old whore who

clings to her youth too long.

Disappointing yellowing stalks

from which droop sad bright petals,

decaying at the edges.

Oh!  that beauty should ever adorn

such a deathly image.

“She looked so beautiful

and healthy,

what a fine corpse.”

Death you mock us with our life.

Life you mock us with our death.

Cruel paradox.

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Copyright D. Clancy (1987)

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Original Note from my diary:

This poem was composed in a state of warm and sunny euphoria in St Stephens Green.  It was written down in progressive stages of inebriation over an excellent bottle of Muscadet in Rajdoot’s Indian Restaurant.

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Authors Note from today:

The corpse in question was Nana Clancy who’s death affected me fairly profoundly.  I think this is the best poem I have written, but that’s my personal emotions around the whole thing.  And it may be the wine talking.  Rajdoot’s has closed down, which is really sad.  I loved that restaurant.