Orchids

Original Text: 

Persephone in Winter (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1937): 95.

1Orchids, it was, she liked. So much I learned.
2Always, outside my shop, she hesitated, turned,
4With a queer dumb resentful pain
5As if their posturing airs and graces,
7Bit into her like steel.
8Orchids, at half a crown! --
9Now, if she'd loved the brown
12Or childish primroses, laughing through dew,
13I'd have leaned out: "Missie, this bunch for you --
14There, I know how you feel."
15But orchids -- half a crown --
16She with her hair cut long,
17And that strange steely look -- yet not too strong,
18Not strong enough to stand the wind and rain.
19But women are like cats. Once give them milk,
20And you've got topaz eyes, black sensuous silk
21Round you for life; that small, confiding purr
22You haven't the heart to stop. That's how I felt, with her.
23Orchids, at half a crown ... and women who
24Take that from drunken sailors -- and grateful, too.
25I wonder, now, if she'd have thought this strange?
26One slim green flower thrust out: "Here, Missie, fair exchange."

Notes

3] troll-flowers: globe-flowers. Back to Line
6] Second Empire: the imperial government in France of Napoleon III, 1852-70. Back to Line
10] gillyflowers: any of several plants, such as the wallflower, that have fragrant flowers. Back to Line
11] arums: another name for the calla lily, a marsh plant with small greenish flowers in a white outer flower. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1937
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: 
2013
Rhyme: 
Form: