The narrow lanes with their arms full of flowers – Queen Anne’s lace, red campion, scurvy grass, may blossom, yellow iris, ragged robin, buttercups, yellow broom, wood sorrel, a few late primroses and bluebells. It’s not difficult to imagine Flora, the classical personification of spring. I’ve been away to North Wales again and the landscape was celebratory, keeping high festival. I was staying with friends I hadn’t seen for three years.
On Tuesday morning we were shocked to hear of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing. The wild flowers became a memorial, a funeral wreath. So much beauty in nature.
For most of the week the wide sweep of Cardigan Bay was visible – Snowdonia, Cadair Idris, and the coast of Wales in its great curve down towards Strumble Head and St David’s. I was catching up on the latest PN Review and read Anne Stevenson’s poem “Defeating the Gloom Monster” (what a wonderful title!). It was written in remembrance of the late Lee Harwood. The second part of the poem is set in Cwm Nantcol in North Wales. This was an area Lee Harwood loved and revisited several times. Anne Stevenson captures it so well in the poem:
“the hills assembling their giant silhouettes –
black purples of outcrops and spindly thorn trees,
a scree a skull a cliff an open mouth”
and I looked across the sea to the Rhinogs, remembering my own occasional visits to Cwm Nantcol and the wonderful reading Lee Harwood gave at Grasmere a short time before his death. The poem ends with the words:
“No one but you could experience such perfect joy.”
See my post on Lee Harwood “Timeless Moments” 10 August 2015
* I named for you all the wild flowers is a line from Michael Longley’s “The Ice-cream Man”