old chestnuts

Horse chestnut flowers against clouds

Horse chestnuts hold pale torches high
in green spread fingers and old wisteria
writhes around wrought iron
in a blue-teared cascade.
Throughout the city,
elm trees sway, scattering
indifferent confetti.

These lines have been retrieved and re-vamped from a poem called Flowers for an Easter wedding.

It was written some years ago – in Spain, which accounts for the elms, and for why it’s so out of synch with the English flowering season – and I think it was published as a three stanza piece with 15 lines.

Now I find only these three images worth attention, and even here the horse chestnuts are not very original. I suspect it’s a poem that needs to be taken out again and given a good shake to see what can be made of it.

Since the chestnuts are in flower and London is decked with wisteria at the moment, it’s probably a good time to be re-visiting it. (Both the city and the poem.)

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

5 thoughts on “old chestnuts”

  1. The chestnuts and elms seem fine to me, but the wisteria brings little to the wedding feast but a soup of mixed metaphors. A literal cascade doesn’t literally writhe, so the reader doesn’t get a clear picture.

    I don’t like all the Rs in

    “wisteRia / wRithes aRound wRought iRon”

    – and then aRound the Ragged Rocks it Runs, perhaps.

    But the big problem is that even after tweaking this will still be a list of images that could appear in any order. It’s not a poem; it’s part of a poem.

    But I enjoyed reading it.


    1. And what’s wrong with mixed metaphor soup for the wedding breakfast?!

      Back in 2001, when I first asked for critique on an early version, I was left wondering what to do when critics one admires give contradicting advice. Other than thanking them for taking the time to read and comment, of course. (Btw, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.) I’m not sure this will ever be more than a fragment of a poem – for posthumous publication as part of the “literary remains”.

      Incidentally, the English barely know the meaning of Rs. A stubborn Spaniard will do things erre que erre, probably including repeating tongue twisters such as: El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramón Ramírez se lo ha cortado.


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