11 August 2016

Poetry Thursday - White Lilies by Gillian Clark

The poem is paired with the painting by Shani Rhys James
 White Lilies

The lilies yawn like leopards
caged all day in the hot house.
Back late, we open the door
and an animal breath flows out,
filling the night-garden, bitter-sweet
with azalea and cat-breath of flowers.

Inside, paw-prints of pollens
the colour of blood, soft
blood-beads to stain the fingers,
a petal curled like a cat
on the scratched piano,
scent escaped like a gas.

I inhale it, dizzy, losing myself
in thickets of frond, fern, leaf,
stems and stamens of roses,
wall-paper flowers climbing the walls
of the yellow room, red room, blue room,
in a stink of nectar and damp.

They grow over the windows, the doors,
till I'm spellbound in the story
of a girl-woman tamed and trapped
in a tower in a wood in a thicket
of flowers, where something
is breathing, is purring, is prowling.

           - Gillian Clarke

The scene is the museum bookshop, in Cardiff. Thumbing through "Florilingua" - a compilation of paintings by Shani Rhys James, a favourite Welsh artist, and the poems, by various poets, that they have inspired - I am struck by the yellow wallpaper, and the accompanying poem by Gillian Clarke - a favourite Welsh poet. The wallpaper from this painting is on the cover; the book ... full of sinister, hot-housed flowers ... is on my wish list.

1 comment:

Olga Norris said...

Thanks for this poem - I had not encountered it before, and so love that first line's striking image. Lilies will forever be enhanced by that.
Did you see the What Do Artists Do All Day programme about Shani Rhys James - fascinating.