Thursday, 25 March 2010

I did not see the iris move...

Iris xiphium
Pierre-Joseph Redouté

...This was the sequence of the flower:
First the leaf from which the bud would swell,
No prison, but a cell,
A rolled rainbow;
Then the sheath that enclosed the blow
Pale and close
Giving no hint of the blaze within,
A tender skin with violet vein.
Then the first unfurling petal
As if a hand that held a jewel
Curled back a finger, let the light wink
Narrowly through the chink,
Or like the rays before sunrise
Promising glory.

And while my back is turned, the flower has blown.
Impossible to tell
How this opulent blossom from that spick bud has grown.
The chrysalis curled tight,
The flower poised for flight -
Corolla with lolling porphyry wings
And yellow tiger markings
A chasing-place for shade and light:
Between these two, the explosion
Soundless, with no duration
(I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel my love unfurl.)
The most tremendous change takes place in silence,
Unseen, however you mark the sequence,
Unheard, whatever the din of exploding stars.

Extract from:
A Matter of Life and Death

Anne Ridler (1959)


I found this in a slim book
on the shelves of my favourite bookshop.

Anne Ridler (1912 - 2001) came from a literary family
and married Vivian Ridler, publisher.
She was a friend of C.S. Lewis and influenced by T.S. Eliot
with whom she worked at Faber and Faber.

She is not a well known poet today
but the subdued elegance of her writing appeals to me
and gives me much to think about.


  1. Oh, my goodness, my God. How beautiful. I will have to find her poetry and if I cannot, I will read this over and over again.
    Thank you, Ellen.

  2. ...I cannot get over:a rolled rainbow..not to mention every other word.
    I am going to say "a rolled rainbow" over and over again as I go to sleep tonight and will conjure up all of the beautiful images that this poem that the right term?
    Ellen again.

  3. Wow! fabulous images. I have been trying to capture just that in fabric.Flowers unfurling from tightly packed bauds.

  4. That is a very good find indeed. I will not be surprised to see that poem moving, especially when irises begin to unfurl in gardens. I tried to capture an allium last year in pictures but I couldn't have done it in words and of course there is much to ponder beneath the words.

  5. I am constantly fascinated by people who can use words in such a beautiful way, taking form, colours, shapes. Beautiful.

  6. Beautiful imagery. Iris are among my favourite flowers.

  7. This is so lovely, thank you.

  8. Glad I saved this post for this morning! I couldn't even imagine what to ask to ask for a lovelier beginning to my day. I can say that only because I can scroll back a post to the smile of beautiful MissM.

    Don't you just love slim books? I think they routinely hold treasures.

  9. How beautiful, thanks for sharing :-)


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