Mimulus – Edward Bach’s flower for those who fear real things – that haven’t actually happened yet.
She found, what seemed at first, to be the ideal spot, now she’s not so sure. She is firmly ensconced on the right bank of the beck on the downstream side of the bridge – a quiet, sunny spot away from the hustle and bustle. The sort of place one could grow and bloom without being over-looked by nosy neighbours.
It seemed to have everything going for it, peace and quiet, security, all you could ask for. The problem is, well, first there are the cows. So inquisitive. Always poking their noses over the fence and rooting around in the riverside vegetation, she’s convinced that one of them is going to knock that fence down, the way they push and shove each other. They have a huge field, for goodness sake, why can’t they mind their own business instead of trampling over everything.
Then there’s the bridge. From where she’s sitting it’s just a black hole, she can’t see through to the other side. Anything could come down the river, ducks, people, floods, even a tsunami. The news is full of it, and the pictures on Facebook – it’s enough to give you nightmares!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote this in 1797 – he didn’t think much of it. He only published it in 1816 at the urging of his friends. It was unenthusiastically received by the poetry reading public – they didn’t think much of it, either.
He wasn’t a well man, and in those far off days, medications were few and far between. As part of his writing process, he often took long country walks. On this occassion, he had taken two grains of opium – the recommended pain medication of the period. Passing an old farmhouse he lay down to wait for the drugs to take effect – and fell asleep.
When he awoke his head was full of strange images, intrigued he took out paper and pencil and wrote as the pictures came to him.
Halfway through, someone came and interrupted him. He dealt with that, and then tried to go back to the dream. But the spell was broken.
Read the whole poem, the strange images it conjures up make you realise just how irritated he must have been with the person who broke his train of thought.
‘There he is, again.’
‘Are you sure that’s the same one? He looks just like the other one to me.’
‘No, that’s the one with the black thing in his forelegs. Look, see!’
‘Oh yes, so he has. What’s that, then?’
‘Who knows. The important thing is, he walks on down the road and around the corner, so he’ll know.’
‘Hmm. But are you sure they’re around the corner?’
‘We don’t know what’s around the corner – but he does. We just need to ask him if he’s seen them.’
‘What would you say?’
‘Just go and stand and chat to him for a bit and bring it up casually in the conversation.’
‘No. You do it. I’m not much good at idle chat.’
‘Ask him if he’s enjoying the nice weather we’ve been having.’
‘What if he says he hasn’t?’
‘Oh come on, it’s been glorious, how can he possibly say that? Well, tell him that the best grass is down near the beck, then.’
‘What’s the point of that? I doubt if he cares, he never comes in the field.’
‘Yes but you could ask him what the grass was like in the field around the corner – and then you could ask him.’
‘Ask him yourself if you’re so good at this.’
‘Quick, quick. Aah, look. Now he’s gone. we’ve missed our chance. Why didn’t you just do it?’
‘Why didn’t you just do it?’
‘We’re never going to find out if there are any girls in the other field, now are we?’
You know how it is – you want to collect a little data so you can write a chatty, but informative, narrative. So you give Google a shake and, once he’s finished grumbling, you send him off with explicit instructions, you twiddle your thumbs for 0.0023 seconds, et voila, 10,234,765 results. As usual, he wasn’t listening when you discussed your requirements, and almost all of these results are completely irrelevant. A great many of them are interesting, however, and you waste a good few hours discovering many intriguing facts – totally unrelated to your original concept.
At this point I had already decided to tell you that the flowers in our picture came from the Iberian Peninsular in about 1700, planted by monks in monastery gardens for the red dye produced from their roots. But, just casually checking some spelling, I find that this is Green Alkanet and isn’t related to the plant with the red roots. Still, I felt sure that, if a victim of snake bite chewed some of the leaves and spat them into the serpents mouth, the snake would surely die. Again, no, not this plant.
Green Alkanet isn’t related to real Alkanet at all, and has none of its medicinal or industrial uses – the bees are very fond of it, though.