I love snowdrops. Our first child was born at snowdrop time, at the start of February. I’d already written about them, and a poem ‘Three Ways of Snowdrops’ was published in my 2011 collection I Sing of Bricks (Salt Publishing), but I had stumbled on the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival competition and wanted to enter.
I did a bit of research and pretty soon (lucky me) a poem started to whisper to me. That’s how poems often start for me, a kind of aural gift.
So I wrote this poem, and was fortunate to be Highly commended, which gave me a place in the anthology, which includes several poets I know personally, such as Estelle Price, Mark Totterdell and Bethany Rivers. There were different age categories, so there are poems by younger poets and fledgling poets of 11 and under. It’s always refreshing to read poems by young poets: they are unafraid and open, not bound by conventions, and incredibly creative. I never fail to come away from working with young people at workshops without catching some of their enthusiasm and delight.
So I thought I would share this poem of mine today, because now I have snowdrops coming in my garden, and am starting to feel 2021 might be a better year, as the vaccine rollout means we might be able to hope for the end of the Covid crisis and a tentative return to better days.
The Great Snowdrop Orchestra The great snowdrop orchestra begins its tuning up, in secret then pushes out strong notes, sharp and flat at first but growing to a harmony. As earth warms, each small group prepares to play its part. Soon Gerard Parker taps the music stand, raises his baton. Each tepal is lifted, alert, ready to enchant. Lord Monosticus leads the bass section. His deep notes underpin the melody as silver-throated Ophelia soars above, her grace notes embroidering the air, improbably high. The open quavers of Magnet counterpoint, dancing up and down the scale effortlessly, the wind’s harp. Full-throated, Beatrix Stanley bubbles her clarinet. Viridapice manages percussion from tangly triangle to deep drum. There is no music like it, the sonatas and symphonies of snowdrops played all over the world. One day, if scientists continue their important work in this field, we may even come to hear it.