Hothouse Flowers

At the weekend I shifted quite a lot of stuff around the house, in preparation for a major redecoration project in my main bedroom, which, when it gets started, means I’ll be sleeping in the spare room for quite a while. I moved a whole case of old paperback novels I’ve kept since I was a teenager and couldn’t help opening one that happened to be at the top. It was An Alien Heat, the first novel in the classic Dancers at the End of Time trilogy by Michael Moorcock whose books I devoured voraciously when I was at school. At the front of this one is a quotation from a poem by Theodore Wratislaw which contains the title phrase. I had a quick google about and found the whole poem, which turned out to be a very sensual and well-constructed sonnet, as opposed to the cack-handed parody I put up recently. The title of this poem also of course furnished the name of a well-known band.

I hate the flower of wood or common field.
I cannot love the primrose nor regret
The death of any shrinking violet,
Nor even the cultured garden’s banal yield.
The silver lips of lilies virginal,
The full deep bosom of the enchanted rose
Please less than flowers glass-hid from frost and snows
For whom an alien heat makes festival.
I love those flowers reared by man’s careful art,
Of heady scents and colors: strong of heart
Or weak that die beneath the touch of knife,
Some rich as sin and some as virtue pale,
And some as subtly infamous and frail
As she whose love still eats my soul and life.

4 Responses to “Hothouse Flowers”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Some of the stuff I read as a teenager I’ve moved on from, some I love to revisit. The latter category includes Alistair MacLean, John Wyndham and PG Wodehouse. Wyndham is my favourite SF author because he can do characters, which are necessary if a plot is to retain interest for an entire book. Many SF writers have great ideas but are poor at drawing character, in which case I prefer their short stories.

  2. telescoper Says:

    Moorcock churned out dozens of books in the Swords and Sorcery genre which are very imaginative, pacy and well-written. He seemed to be able to trot them out in a few days each judging by the rate at which they appeared. I’ve kept the books all this time but never re-read them.

    On the other hand, I never read a word of PG Wodehouse until very recently and found him not only brilliantly funny but also just superbly written. I’ve still got loads of his books I haven’t read yet.

    By the way, my copy of An Alien Heat, bought new in 1977, cost 75p.

  3. As a big Isaac Asimov fan (I’ve actually read most of his books and met him personally at a science-fiction convention in Manhattan in 1983), Wodehouse has been on my “must check him out” list for a long time since Asimov mentioned several times that Wodehouse was one of his favourite writers.

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