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APPLES AT ERDDIG: A GLIMPSE OF AVALON

Beneath the rows of limes edging to yellow,

the air, tangible with precipitation,

appears almost emerald, a sea green.

 

In the border beside the high wall, which marks

the tended gardens from the unkempt woods,

there are blooms still. A bee gathers nectar –

and the black, turned earth ripples slowly

as a mole forages in the underworld.

 

***

 

Beyond ruined Troy, and north of Paradise

abandoned, from where our words began,

far over the plains and ranges of Europe,

on steep mountain slopes in haphazard orchards

are wild fruit the colour of blood and grass,

which travellers on the Silk Road – merchants,

conquerors, slaves – might once have eaten.

 

***

 

In the wooden barn where the tools are cleaned,

sharpened, hung, this year’s apples are displayed

in small pyramids: Lord Lambourne Dessert,

Gloria Mundi, Keswick Codlin,

Grenadier, Crimson Queening, Wise…

 

When the heavy doors are rolled back each morning

the air is overwhelmed with that keen, sweet scent –

as if Ynys Afallach, Isle of Apples,

Avalon were just below the horizon,

and landfall imminent.

 

 

Acknowledgement: Erddig [https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig] has inspired other poems published on the site, including THE OLD LIME TREES AT ERDDIG [https://www.davidselzer.com/2018/07/the-old-lime-trees-at-erddig/] and ERDDIG: REFLECTIONS ON PATRIMONY [https://www.davidselzer.com/2013/03/errdig-reflections-on-patrimony/]. The inspiration comes in part from the magnificent gardens, that have extended now to the car park where it is possible to leave your motor beside wild flowers. Glyn Smith, the Head Gardener, has kindly given me permission to publish the following:

 

PARADISE IN A PARKING LOT

 

A sea. Of cars.

Look discarded in a massive field of flowers, as a flow of drowned vehicles in a tsunami of rainbow colour.

A remembrance of our heritage; our little contribution. An added percent to a legacy of that once thought lost.

‘Ninety seven percent of our wild flower meadows have gone,’ before man’s hand.

But here waving. Definitely not drowning. Standing proud and defiant!

Adance with added insect life. Eyed and filed on the ‘cloud’ by dull, fleece clad pedestrians that can never shine as bright.

Just corn crop weeds, with a smile on their faces that are the true cups that cheer. Cheer for themselves. we cheer for and, take cheer from them.

The best car park in Britain?

 

Glyn Smith and garden team.

Head Gardener, Erddig Hall, Wrexham.

 

©Glyn Smith 2019

© Copyright David Selzer
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2 Responses
  • John Williams
    November 29, 2019

     
    ‘Apples at Erddig: a Glimpse of Avalon’

    The poem is a meditation on the air: ‘almost emerald, a sea green.’ It takes the reader’s eye to what is near at hand, woods, wall, blooms, bees and then the underworld of the mole.

    Drawn in, the reader confronts the great sweep of history in the next section; merchants, conquerors and slaves of Troy, Paradise and the Silk Road. We’re led to consider the orchards and fruit they provided for travellers. Anyone who has read the Koran might hear an echo of its love of fruit in this Silk Road journey: fruit in the desert is the reward for diligent work, trade and virtue.

    The next section visits the farmyard and the tool barn and shares a delight in the naming of fruit,

    ‘ Lord Lambourne Dessert,
    Gloria Mundi, Keswick Codlin,
    Grenadier, Crimson Queening, Wise…’

    and also, in its overwhelming scent, where the poet feels for a moment as if transported back to the land of myth and hence, the title the poem draws on ‘ Avalon’:

    ” Ynys Afallach, Isle of Apples,
    Avalon:’

    The poem ends with a Romantic longing,

    ‘landfall imminent’ ,

    the poet reaching out for what is always just out of reach, a depth of feeling captured in this perfect motif for a lost world.

    (Shelley’s ‘Epipsychidion”)

  • Clive Watkins
    November 29, 2019

    I like everything about this, David. Directness of speech does not inhibit richness of suggestion. I particularly enjoyed the following touches: “the air, tangible with precipitation”; “the tended gardens … the unkempt woods” (where assonance quietly links two contrasting words); the slide from the mole’s “underworld” to the ruin-mound at Troy and the layers of our linguistic past, perhaps hinted at in the recession that takes us to “where our words began”; “wild fruit the colour of blood and grass”; “that keen, sweet scent”; and the falling rhythms of the last two lines, the final line being eloquently curtailed. (I’m a sucker for Welsh names, too.) As you may recall, Irene and I visited Erddig not long ago. The car-park with its wild flowers was as beautiful as the text below your poem declares.

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