For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 28 October 2011

il pleut des coings

raining quinces

farewell to the land of luscious fruit
where apples hang like rosy pink lanterns
and pumpkins swell like pregnant farmgirls
and bunches of grapes are purple chandeliers
and succulent figs so wickedly feminine
they seem barely legal

i’m back in the land of bitter sloes
where crab apples lie wasted in the orchards
hips and haws food only for the fieldfares
and blackberries are shrivelled up and tart

but it’s always raining quinces
in my heart

15 comments:

George said...

This one leaves me thinking, Robert. While one should assume nothing about the meaning of a poem, I'm inclined to assume that the land of luscious fruit is France and that the land of bitter sloes is the U.K. I like the ring of the title and the last line — "it's always raining in my heart" — but my interpretation is affected somewhat by my childhood memory of eating quinces, which were extremely tart and often rather bitter. Whatever the case, this is a very engaging and thought-provoking poem. I enjoyed it immensely, especially the line about the succulent figs being "so wickedly feminine they seem barely legal." With two fig trees in my backyard, I know exactly what you mean.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, George. Yes, unadorned quinces are tart - but I have special memories of the sweet jellies and jams of which they are inordinately fond in France and Spain. It's one of the essential and symbolic fruits of the Camino. At least for me. You could be right about the France and UK contrast - though, actually, I think the polarity is more of an imaginative, metaphorical one. I was a little worried about the quince connection, I must admit - but find the word and the sound exotic, and it brings many luscious many personal memories! However, I think you may have put your finger on the flaw in the poem! Thanks so much for your appreciative and detailed comment.

George said...

I see that I misquoted your last line. Just a note to let you know that my observations were based upon the notion that it was not just always raining, but raining quinces, in your heart.

The Solitary Walker said...

Then again, on reflection, the amalgam of bitter plus sweet, with a hint of exoticism, may just have been what I subconsciously wanted to say! (After all, it's 'raining' - which is ambiguous: could mean literal miserable rain, or could mean 'raining down' as in a wonderful deluge of delight..?)

Ruth said...

After all these interesting considerations between the two of you, I want to say that I agreed with the discussion, and the poem worked for me from the start.

More of your earthy sensuality, which is fun (and maybe barely legal in me 'ead).

I do feel a bit melancholy at the end of this, though I'm glad that you seem to be in a happy rain of sweetness in your heart.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Ruth ... yes, I think its a bit melancholy, and bittersweet. And, though I do melancholy big time, I hope there's enough 'earthy' humour in it to balance things out..!

am said...

Spoken again in the language of the heart. Good to see these poems that seem to come from your time spent walking long distances.

What was it that Bob said?

Take what you have gathered from quinces.

Well, I wake up in the morning,
Fold my hands and pray for rain.

word verification: subsest -- blessed or obsessed (depending on the context) with subterranean homesick blues.

By the way, I was thinking about "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking" in connection with Albert Einstein. Mere coings?

(-:

The Solitary Walker said...

'The sun is shining, ain't but one train on this track / I'm stepping out of the dark woods...' (Alternative version of 'Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking' with Mavis Stap[les.) See my last post about the forest of Taillard...

Thanks, am, for your quincessential comment!

Friko said...

Oh, it's not so bad in the land of bitter sloes.
Go out into the woods and your heart will sing!

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, I agree with you, Friko! I like my sloes bitter, and I like my grapes sweet, and I like my quinces bittersweet. But you can't beat a luscious fig, whichever way you look at it.

Susan Scheid said...

How have I missed this blog?? Well, no matter, I've found you now, through your comment about Dylan Thomas over at Friko's. Ah, quinces! We're off to the last local farmer's market of the season tomorrow where we'll pick up the last delectable quince tart to be had around these parts until spring.

Suman said...

How very expressive is the imagery that you've conjured up here. I can almost see the pink lanterns and the purple chandeliers - a devilishly delicious world!
Although I've never tasted a quince, your poem makes me lust for one.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your visit, Susan, and hope to see you again! Specially since you're obviously another member of the quince fan club. Will go over to your own blog soonest.

Thanks for your comment about my poem, Suman. I hope the imagery works - I purposefully went over the top in the first stanza, then wanted a 'mean' second stanza in contrast. Though I'm fretting still about the quinces. George unerringly spotted the raw tartness of these - which kind of works against what I was trying to say, even though I find them exotically special and far more 'over there' than 'ever here', from a personal point of view.

Suman said...

The imagery works superbly! The loftiness of the vivid metaphors in the first stanza helps to make the second one forthrightly 'mean'. The tartness immediately hits you, and the poor blackberries are not the only ones responsible!
And now, I must find a quince in Seattle!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your further comment, Suman. I hope you are successful in your search! But, if you find one, sweeten it up first.