To think that one agonises for weeks or months over what will be read or recited in a moment. A poet can but hope it is the sweetest moment in a reader’s life, echoing in his soul for a lifetime thereafter.
Four separate poems are emerging from the “Little Evening Lily” sketch. They are variations on the same theme, born from the many stanza experiments whilst developing the composition.
It should come as no surprise that there is such an outpouring of verse on the subject—the lily in question, Gladiolus liliaceus, is my favourite flower1—but, I am nonetheless amazed.
I am also intimidated, as I wonder whether the four poems will be worthy of their subject, and frustrated, as this further delays the anthology’s completion (likely by four months, given my pace)2.
- If I might do a little introspection: I associate Gladiolus liliaceus with the joy of my mother in spring (September to November in my country, South Africa) when it appears in the wild. Moreover, it evokes the happiest time of my childhood at age eight and nine in the Babilonstoring Valley—of which I have written before in “This September”, “This October”, “This November” and “A Return to the Valley”—when I recall her displaying the lilies on the kitchen table of the little labourer’s cottage we inhabited at the time, its intoxicating fragrance filling the room at night.
- I typically spend a month on a poem.
I have completed “Bliss”—developed under the working title “That Is All”—a vignette of rural sights and sounds. Its cheerful theme is far removed from the solemn work that inspired it—“Dis Al” by Jan F. E. Celliers—but it does follow its rhythm.1
I shall now develop “Little Evening Lily”, a sketch in praise of my beloved Gladiolus liliaceus. Encountering a specimen in mid-spring 2018, I fell in love with the flower anew, rediscovering its beauty and role in cultivating my appreciation of flora.
- Iambic dimetre: “dudda DUM dudda DUM / dudda DUM dudda DUM” and so forth.
It is late spring in the Overberg (the southernmost region of South Africa) and whilst many waysides yet are in bloom1, others are high with wild oats. In the early evening, they sway in the breeze as the sun makes gold of the stubble on the hills.
- On Friday (13 November 2020), when the photograph below was taken, I happened upon a swath of Lobelia erinus, Ornithogalum strictum and even Micranthus tubulosus.