Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Flowers: Feverfew


(By Muriel Rukeyser)

We are the antlers of that white animal
That great white animal
Asleep under the sea
He forgets and dreams so deep he does not
Know his whiteness in the sea-black
Among the plants of night.
His antlers have legs and arms.       Our heads
together being joined
Journey tonight, dreamed in his ocean.

Where we lie afterwards, smoke of our dreams
Goes coiling up, a plant in the dark room.
You were a young boy, you sang in the Polish woods
Limping away away.       I in this city, held
In a dream of children.       Some mythic animal
Rises now, flies up, white from the sea-floor.
In all our death, the glow behind his eyes
Speaks under all knowing : our lives burn.

That's a trippy poem, but I felt that its themes of whiteness and burning went well with our floral selection, the charming feverfew. Moreover, I wanted to celebrate Muriel Rukeyser, a totally underappreciated poet, whose birth date was yesterday. This is one of my favorite of her poems. I totally admire the surreal imagery of that antlered, pale sea monster with glowing eyes; it captures my imagination.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

It reminds me of the type of disturbing image that one would have during a fever dream, which is also why I've paired it up with the humble feverfew, a plant which has been used in traditional herbal folk medicine to treat fevers. Although modern science has not backed up this belief, we may appreciate the folk lore that grants flowers magical properties, and locates monsters at the bottom of the sea. ;-)

Anyways, I generally focus on showstopper flowers, the divas and prima donnas of the botanical world. It's a nice change of pace to enjoy the simple beauty of a spray of white and yellow upon a sea of green.

Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium)

Here are a couple of vids featuring Muriel Rukeyser's poetry:

The Ballad of Orange and Grape

Night Feeding


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