Mournful in lilac

Preguntaréis: Y dónde están las lilas?
Y la metafísica cubierta de amapolas ?

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?

I’ve neither imagination nor Mediterranean mind
for such a question – only the Norse notion
that pastel and bold never mix
that Syringa Springs are all the more sweet
stirring dead lands with memory 1
paving the way where papaver blazes with desire
and a kind of fire stolen from Olympus

Because men have battled for grounds
dripping humors into the very earth they stood for
poppy has taken metaphysical shape
black as bile to the core
scarlet and sanguine in a mass for the dead
requiems to paper thin mortality

Seeing these metaphors transplanted to context
yours is no discarnate poetry fleeting as a fad
nor baroque conceit heavily laden in odes
where death itself is undone as a poppy dream 2
– you heard dust settling with an unsettling peace
and people craving melodies that match the picturesque
but the poet mournful in lilac refuses such communing

© Laura Granby 2016

1.a nod to Eliot’s “The Wasteland”
2.see Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 10: Death be not proud”

An answer to opening lines of Neruda’s “I’m explaining a few things” and uniting with others at Poetry Pantry


  1. specially red poppies will perhaps always stand for this organized spilled blood..closing lines, particularly poppy dream seems so heavy with sighs…beautifully the richness of the language here…


  2. The Neruda poem is certainly stunning and confronting! Brave of you to respond, and bring in Eliot as well! Sounds as though you were impelled to and could not resist!


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