Thursday, 12 March 2009
They are strange flowers in some ways, opening their big moonlike discs that, in the case of the greenish ones, have a glow-in-the-dark quality to them, and lingering on for weeks until they're hard and dry like old paper. Now I can't remember where I saw it, or quote what it said, but I am sure Ted Hughes wrote a very unflattering poem about Hellebores, comparing their fat buds to slugs and generally not allowing the plant to have anything but a sinister, uncomfortable but fascinating ugliness. It isn't in his Collected Poems, so I must have seen it elsewhere. But where? It's driving me daft; I'd love to find it.
I feel similarly about snowdrops: sometimes I find them very beautiful, tough, brave, resilient; and other times sinister, eerie, like unwelcome night-lights. Their powers of multiplying themselves are quite astonishing: turn up a spadeful of them and there seem to be legions of maggot-shaped white bulbs on the blade. Un-nerving. I have written several poems about this, trying to get to the nitty-gritty of the effect they have on me. To compound this they are associated in my mind with a friend who committed suicide. I have written about that in a poem called Among Snowdrops which has been published in The Frogmore Papers, and also in Ireland in The Stony Thursday book.