The Strawberry Shrub
from Mine the Harvest
Strawberry Shrub, old-fashioned, quaint as quinces,
Hard to find in a world where neon and noise
Have flattened the ends of the three more subtle senses;
And blare and magenta are all that a child enjoys.
More brown than red the bloom - it is a dense colour;
Colour of dried blood ; colour of the key of F.
Tie it in your handkerchief, Dorcas, take it to school
To smell. But no, as I said, it is browner than red; it is duller
Than history, tinnier than algebra; and you are colour-deaf.
Purple, a little, the bloom, like musty chocolate;
Purpler than the purple avens of the wet fields;
But brown and red and hard and hiding its fragrance ;
More like an herb it is: it is not exuberant
You must bruise it a bit: it does not exude; it yields.
Clinker-built, the bloom, over-lapped its petals
Like clapboards; like a boat I had; like the feathers of a wing;
Not graceful, not at all Grecian, something from the provinces:
A chunky, ruddy, beautiful Boeotian thing.
Take it to school, knotted in your handkerchief Dorcas,
Corner of your handkerchief, take it to school, and see
What your teacher says; show your pretty teacher the curious
Strawberry Shrub you took to school for me.