Coquelicot

Lest we forget that before becoming the iconic Remembrance, or Flanders, flower, the common poppy was that exuberantly fertile wildflower of our cornfields and a sighting of flame red rivers running through golden corn never failed to thrill – except for farmers, who through extensive use of herbicides all but managed to eradicate them. At the boundary edges of the mono-cropped fields of rapeseed, I discovered these:-

Pollen beetles or Meligethes aeneus love rapeseed oil flowers and since these have now gone to seed, they tiny insects were making the most of dark poppy pollen. And I’ve only recently learned that poppies do not produce nectar, just quantities of protein-rich pollen. 

Poppies open at dawn, and before they do, their anthers start to release pollen. By the following day, fully fertilised and depleted of pollen, the flower loses its petals…beetles, bees and bumblebees take advantage of the pollen bonanza offered by these short-lived flowers.”*

Thus it is not just for our eye-candy delights that poppies need to be left to flower – as all these pollinators in this one little patch of poppies verify.

Fortunately the poppy can survive following a dormancy of over 80 years and readily re-emerges on disturbed ground, such as building sites and road verges.

Moreover farmers are now getting paid to let fields lie fallow and hence the re-emergence of these fleetingly fragile flowers.

The wild corn poppy takes its species name ‘rhoeas’ from the Greek for red, while in the French vernacular, it was called ‘coquelicot’ and that name has come to perfectly define the bright red, orange tinted hue.

My iPhone 6 could not quite do the flowers justice so I shall leave Mary Oliver to have the final words of praise for ‘Poppies’:

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves…
…of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,

A Friday Flowers post – something for the weekend!

Quotes from bugBlog: "Buzzing bees in poppies"
Further reading
Kew Science: Papaver rhoeas

Breathless with adoration

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
~ William Wordsworth

[One for the summer solstice though this is the end of May and almost the last time the sun shone here!]

Sunday Sayings – A pick from the poets, writers or scriptures

For T. E. Hulme

Embarkation

Troop train boarding
steam, smoke and blur of faces
the cavernous crowd left waving
down the line, drowned
in English rain.

The Channel port a soldierly swell
monochrome and uniform
on the gangplank you glimpsed
an underworld, shed youth
and crossed yourself
across the Rubicon
to France

A cold soldier

Warm yourself with words
flame, enemy, seeing red
hot-blooded orders — but stars
look down in an ice cold stare
the greatcoat worn from wear
a ready-made shroud or nesting
for rats, neutral and grey as ashes.

Gunfire crackle, wood catching light
tracer arcs, sparklers, smoke from the bonfire
gas thick as a blanket
kept some warm

Last Quarter

Even here seasons spread
an influence, a hint
of something natural still
beneath embattled landscapes
snow, grass, poppy, leaf,
remembering Endon birthdays
and ruddy wonderment of moon
a hedge, pale childish faces

Where the shell hole puddles
a grimacing lunatic, profiled
behind drawn curtains
of cloud

September 28th 1917

Brevity of language
swift years for living
bullet, wound, tears
all – that – was, the inner
seeping out, earthbound
miasma a rose offering
to heaven. And your poetry
archived in the circle.

Fate decreed it briefer still
the Imagist’s full reverie, unhearing
that smashing shell to smithereens

A Belgian cemetery, a bare-boned epitaph:
‘one of the war poets’

These verses reference some poems of T. E. Hulme - nominal father of Imagist poetry. Through them I've tried to capture the aesthetic of this movement, according to Frank's prompt: Imagism revisited