the crimson petal


I keep looking at the photos I took of hellebore flowers the other day and the only thought that comes to mind is about Byron swimming the Hellespont. Surely there should be some connection?

But, no. It seems that the Hellespont is the sea of Helle, who fell off a flying golden ram into the sea when trying to escape death with her twin brother Phrixus. Hellebore, on the other hand, although also derived from the Greek, combines ‘to injure’ and ‘food’.


Perhaps I should ponder the fact that pont appears to mean ‘sea’, when I would have expected it to be ‘bridge’ – after all that’s what it means in Welsh and French, and it’s very close to the Spanish puente.

Or perhaps I should ponder the fact that the ‘bore’ part of hellebore means ‘food’: I’m sure I could follow the idea of food and boredom down a rabbit hole.


Perhaps I should explore the associations of that golden ram: apparently the one of the golden fleece that Jason went in search of, though this is the first time I had heard that it had wings. Would a ram’s wings be covered with wool or feathers?


Really, though, I dn’t feel up for diving down rabbit holes, so I am going to limit my comments to two points: one, how wonderful it was to see so many different colours of flower on the morning after the coldest night of the year; and two, how difficult it is to take photos of bell-like flowers that grow low to the ground.


Perhaps it’s worth pointing out that the post title is a nod to an entirely different poetic Lord: Tennyson rather than Byron. This extract from Tennyson’s The Princess does, however, seem appropriate for these beautiful, but rather disturbing, flowers:

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

     Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

      Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

      Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

      Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: