My least favourite time of year, these bleak rain-sodden days of January, still early dark though slowly lightening, but at least the bulbs are pushing through in the garden and the first snowdrops appearing in the lane, and I am put in mind of this quietly sensuous poem by Muriel Stuart (1885-1967), a poet of Scottish ancestry praised by Hugh MacDiarmid among others and sometimes associated with the Scottish Renaissance, though in fact she lived all her life in England.
The Seed Shop
Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry –
Meadows and gardens running through my hand.
Dead that shall quicken at the call of Spring,
Sleepers to stir beneath June’s magic kiss,
Though birds pass over, unremembering,
And no bee seek here roses that were his.
In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams,
A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
That will drink deeply of a century’s streams,
These lilies shall make summer on my dust.
Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
And in my hand a forest lies asleep.