on the edge of memory

A few days ago, I read a poem by a friend which reminded me of a short story. Sadly, I can’t remember who wrote it: it might have been Saki; perhaps it was Wilde; there’s a very slight chance it was Lovecraft. (I’m fairly sure it was unlike most of the other stories I know by the same author.)

I’m a long way from my own bookshelves, so after racking my brains unsuccessfully, I have had to resort to trying to find the story via the web.

single crocus close up.
I think the scene was a domestic drawing-room as the afternoon slips towards dusk.

I half remember beautiful scenery, or it might have been the view of a garden through French windows; it could even have been potted plants, I suppose, though I think they would have been perfumed, not simply aspidistras.

There was music; probably celestial, though it might have been a piano. There was a dreamer and a dream, perhaps of classical gods; a promise of immortality, or of life in a different dimension…

So far, I have spent several hours searching – googling around the edges of my memory – but I haven’t yet found the story in question. Nothing from Wilde seems to fit. Lovecraft’s What the moon brings is wonderfully atmospheric, but is set far too late in the day and the flowers are too eldritch:

It was in the spectral summer when the moon shone down on the old garden where I wandered; the spectral summer of narcotic flowers and humid seas of foliage that bring wild and many-coloured dreams.

I really think it must have been Saki. The complete stories are available on this website, and if you don’t know them, I thoroughly recommend you go there now and start reading. I haven’t found what I’m looking for, but am having enormous fun. From the title, The occasional garden sounded possible, but it isn’t it. Even so, this quote makes it a good enough excuse to use the accompanying photos.

There seems to have been an irreconcilable difference of opinion between sparrows and Providence since the beginning of time as to whether a crocus looks best standing upright with its roots in the earth or in a recumbent posture with its stem neatly severed; the sparrows always have the last word in the matter, at least in our garden they do. I fancy that Providence must have originally intended to bring in an amending Act, or whatever it’s called, providing either for a less destructive sparrow or a more indestructible crocus.

Close up of crocuses.

The blooms in the pictures were planted on Boxing Day and are indoors. There are fewer of them, but they’re in a far better state than the ones outside in the garden; I think it’s the cold, though, not the sparrows that have laid those low.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

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

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