e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Danger! Pansies!

The other day I happened to be walking down a street I rarely visit, admiring the front gardens as I went. They were all so different and all so glowing with late spring flowers and new greenery.

I came to one with several large tubs of pansies dotted around on paving. A slight breeze set them shivering. All those black and yellow pansies hunkering down suddenly looked like clusters of tiny tigers preparing to pounce out of their tubs. I’ve never thought of pansies as aggressive before.

As I went on my way, my musings about the personalities and intentions of plants reminded me of a wonderful book I read some months ago: Weeds and Wild Flowers, poems by Alice Oswald with etchings by Jessica Greenman.

Alice Oswald imagines the mental life of plants with clarity and beauty. She sees a kind of cross-over between their world and ours.

Stinking Goose-foot has grown human

It could happen to anyone.

I have never thought of Narrow-lipped Helleborine as ‘hard-worked’ or ‘reliable’, nor Narcissus as having an ‘invisible self whose absence inhabits mirrors’, but now I’m beginning to see flowers in a different light.


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