Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday and 'the plant of joy'.

Remembrance Sunday
The road into town was closed off.
The church yard full of people.

Back home
The wind blowing military chants through empty streets.
Around my house

People wearing Disruptive Pattern camouflage
Forest green, bright against concrete grey...

Sat on walls
Killing time.

I don't buy poppies
At this time of year...

In 1729 the East India Company began importing opium into China, as a way to rectify the trade imbalance between Britain and China...because the British were addicted...

To tea.

There were wars.
The Opium Wars.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori..

And in the local graveyard
Where today's remembrance took place
The most common euphemism for death is
Fell asleep...

Still born infants, are:
Born asleep...

Opium morphine..
As the brothers (sleep and death)  inhabit the spaces in between consciousness, so Persephone plays in the brilliant eternal-springtime of Homer or Ovid's retelling.

But the flower she picks isn't as a poppy.

Up and down the soft meadow. Iris blossoms too she picked, and hyacinth, and the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower-faced girl by Earth. All according to the plans of Zeus. Earth was doing a favor for the one who receives many guests.
The narcissus was a wondrous thing in its splendor. To look at it gives a sense of holy awe to the immortal gods as well as mortal humans.
It has a hundred heads growing from the root up. Its sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies up above.
And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance. So too the churning mass of the salty sea.
Persephone was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything. And the earth, full of roads leading every which way, opened up under her...

The image shimmers onto the silver screen
Dorothy drowning in the sea of flowers
As Persephone's abduction becomes Dorothy's sleep.
A little death

Robert Graves brought the connection between Persephone and poppies to the attention of the mythologically minded in volume 1 of Greek Myths:

 "An image of a goddess with a poppy–headdress was found in Crete, another goddess . . . holds poppies in her hand; and on the gold ring from the Acropolis treasures at Mycenae, a seated Demeter gives three poppy–heads to a standing Kore. 

Poppy–seeds were used as a condiment on bread and poppies are naturally associated with Demeter since they grow in cornfields but Kore picks or accepts poppies because of the soporific qualities and because of their scarlet colour which promises resurrection after death."

Museu arqueològic de Creta a Heràkleion, foto feta per J. Ollé el 6 d'agost del 2005.

Karl Kerenyi wrote:
"It seems probable that the Great Mother Goddess who bore the names Rhea and Demeter, brought the poppy with her from her Cretan cult in Eleusis and it is almost certain that in the Cretan cult sphere opium was prepared from poppies"
Poppy as an entheogen, a key to the door
Allowing perception of the god within...

More effective and safer than ergot in your cup of  kykeon...

But today, Remembrance Sunday, a paper poppy is just another euphemism

The tides of red poppies over the battlefields of Europe...
Appear from afar as a gentleness
As if the earth forgives and mends
The red blood and chunks of quivering flesh torn, riddled with bullets, gouged into blasphemy by bayonets...

It isn't death if 'we remember'
They seem to say.
It is only sleep...
Better to dream that way.

Don't remember.