Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 23 May 2016
Lily of the Valley
This is a scent which is becoming rare - not because the flower no longer grows or the ingredients can no longer be blended, it is the wearer of it which has all but died out.
If you took, at random, a girl born between 1895 and 1920, let her mature until somewhere between late teens and early twenties, and nurtured her with the occasional ball or dance, a Summer Fete or a trip to the coast with parents and siblings until she watched her own offspring by a survivor of a world war find their own scent - the girls giving it off and the boys never quite identifying its name - then it strengthened through evaporation. Its real name was a secret never to be told, even if she had the words or time left to tell it.
Not just Lily of the Valley, it is - or was - the distilled memories of the youth of an old woman.
This below, is the only proper poem I ever wrote, and I wrote it when living with Shawn here in Bath, in 1976. Ok, I know this is a bit of a floral binge-fest, but I'm going to give it an airing after all these years. It's crap, but I still like it.
Orpheus and Euridice Walk in the land that time forgot (the land remembers, we do not) and in the sickly-scented shade of Cypress trees, an esplanade will lead the way to where there stood a temple, in a silent wood of Cedars from the Lebanon. This grove of living censers found the perfume that they spread around with roots, sunk deep into the land where incense lies, and where they stand like priests upon the mountainside. A crumbing fresco on a wall - a broken picture - can recall with words more vividly than thought, a memory, which, if left to aught but flowers would too soon decay, lose its colour, fade away, like Orpheus and Euridice.