Ivan Head: A Few Late Chrysanthemums

Reading A Few Late Chrysanthemums   I   I don’t know whether Betjeman saw chrysanthemums in a florist shop after seasonal flowers had gone; or, simply lingering in a winter garden where some survived frost. Perhaps in nineteen fifty-four they were an antidote to mild despair, some post-war care; the great smog, the nuclear air, the ambiguity of the annual way twenty-five years before the Poet Laureate. This verse styled Medium, Gloom, and Light helped make his name and still is found and bought today.   II   This summer I looked for the hydrangeas’ blue and mauve, and pink…

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