Friday, 13 July 2012

The Naming of Plants

I saw the other day the The Weaver of Grass had written a post entitled The Naming of Plants. I immediately thought of the famous Henry Reed poem, Naming of Parts, which contrasts the poet's prosaic instruction in the art of killing during the Second World War with the goings on in the garden outside. I was disappointed to find that the post -interesting though it was- had nothing to do with the poem. What follows is just a bit of fun - but like many such things it acquired the hint of a dark side when it got going...


Naming of Plants

with apologies to Henry Reed


Today we have naming of plants. Yesterday,
We had weeding. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after planting. But today,
Today we have naming of plants. Though gunfire
Can be heard coming from the television,
Today we have naming of plants.

This is Galium Aparine, which is also known as Goose Grass,
The preponderance of which will become clear to you, once in the garden.
This is Epilobium Angustifolium, known as Rosebay Willowherb.
At last, on TV, the firing has stopped and sirens
Can be heard. As for what's going on beyond the borders,
Who knows? We can but wonder.

This is Urtica Dioica, the removal of which can be
Unpleasant without gloves. And please do not let me
See anyone attempt it in a short-sleeved shirt. One can do it
Quite easily, so long as no flesh is exposed. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see them
(They are, surely, malevolent) until it's too late.

And this is Taraxacum Officinale. Its intention
Is to conquer the earth. All we can do is our best
To rid ourselves of it: we call this pulling up the dandelions.
We do it in Spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
Men in uniforms can be seen running (on TV).
Someone said it was another kind of Spring.

And Spring is when the trouble starts: it is
Perfectly easy if you have strength in your fingers for the Goose Grass,
For the Willowherb, the Dandelions, and time to weed
(Which, in our case, we have not got). The guns
Remain silent. All will be well, perhaps, after all.
And today we have naming of plants.


(c) Dominic Rivron  2012

Urtica Dioica = common nettle.

8 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Absolutely brilliant.

Have you parodied any other poems? I'd buy these in a book ! :)

Tom Stephenson said...

That (original Henry Reed) was my favourite poem at school - I really identified with it, losing concentration and looking out of the window as I did most of the time. I like yours too!

tony said...

Alan Titchmarch as UN PeaceKeeper!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Oh excellent stuff.

Sometimes it is really hard to figure out what is important...

Anna :o]

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh Dominic, that is absolutely brilliant!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I absolutely love this Dom - it really made me smile - I am amazed that there isn't a verse where it is the Tour de France on TV though. The original poem is really one of my favourite poems. I would like to read this poem out at our Poetry group on Wednesday. If you agree, can you please e mail me a copy.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone.

Two specifics:
JW: No I haven't - well, not often - although I did create -sorry, curate- the poetry of Margery Clute.

WG: Thanks! I've sent you a copy.

A Cuban In London said...

I loved the mix of irreverence and earnestness. I'd never read a poem by you and I will be looking forward to more. There's a great humourus undercurrent in the dichotomy of gardening vs war on telly. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.