Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tin Tacks

Gerald Duckworth published Dawn Macleod's A Book of Herbs in 1968. If you remember, I'd done a post about Dawn Macleod, and the garden she worked on at Inverewe in Scotland in the 1950s, a little while ago. It was only by chance I found this lovely old book, also by her, the other day.
Herbs, as anything else we imbibe, can be an influence. Clove carnations ( Dianthus caryophyllus ) "burned themselves into my imagination", the author writes. DM had read a poem written by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor, composed while on the Western Front in 1917, in which he remembered these flowers.
"Recently," Dawn Macleod writes, "after forty years of faithful readership, I came into personal contact with my poet..."
"Not only was he unaware of my youthful attachment, but, as a man of striking honesty, he seemed incapable of uttering false or careless words in order to be pleasant."
"Had those carnations, in some mysterious fashion known only to themselves, initiated a mutual kinship between two characters...?"
She continues: "Some say that the Dianthus symbolizes 'the heart's pure affection'; others, 'faithfulness'; the red carnation is singled out by one as 'an emblem of talent'.
Poets tell us much, or nothing. Above, a painting by Harry Wilson, 'West of Nallama near Tocumwal NSW', a long way north of Melbourne, given to me for my recent birthday. I have tried to hunt him down, this painter, working in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, but have been able to find out nothing about him. How come I am being suggested a road forward ( -let it not be bleak- )? 
'The heart's pure affection' can face a sky without answers. A stumbling block is what I am on at present, where any move can be wrong, but where it seems a move has to be made.
I will not make a move then.  
"The syrup" of the Clove Carnation "strengthens the heart, refresheth the vital spirits and is a good cordiall in feavers, expelling the poyson and fury of...disease."

I have none of that syrup on hand, unfortunately, though the cinnamon scent is one I recall easily. A 'mutual kinship' is something I've always felt was valuable, but it's a reality about which I can say nothing.
I can say though, that a red carnation is what I hope may be delivered to all those I love out there, whether they are reading, speaking or keeping their peace.


  1. Beautiful painting of the Australian landscape. Have a peace filled Christmas Faisal.

    1. Thankyou, Paul! Yes, I love the painting. You too have a peace-filled Christmas my friend.

  2. in my frst garden, i grew red dianthus, whose color stood lovely against the gry-green leaves and stems...i've never found that same red again, but oh it was sweet. i think, faisal, you are keeper of a most interesting archive. peace to you.

    1. Velma, like you, I suspect, I've always been a collector, a gatherer. You like to feel that life is speaking (to you). Along the way you gather its language, perhaps its signals. It helps me feel I belong, to be able to read the world.
      My mother used to have some cinnamon scented Dianthus. The small is extraordinary.
      Peace to you too my friend.