Tony D'Arpino

Live Botanicals


Some notes and a reverie on The Poet as Botanist by Molly Mahood


Samuel T. Coleridge had a pocket microscope like the Wordworth’s. It came with the four volumes of The Arrangement of British Plants According to the Latest Improvements of the Linnean System and an Introduction to the Study of Botany (third edition, 1796) by William Withering.


In his poetry John Clare names 370 plants. D H Lawrence’s first novel The White Peacock has 143 named species of flowers. My friend the poet and travel writer Christopher Somerville also observes hundreds of flowers and plants in his books.


Mahood likes Les Murray’s book Translations from the Natural World in which the poet gives voice to 40 plants and creatures. See his great ‘conversation’ poem Sunflowers:

“You are more intense than God, and fiercely dopey, and we adore you.”

The tournesol responds with all the energy of the universe.


The Poet as Botanist. M M Mahood. Cambridge 2011.

She also wrote Bit Parts in Shakespeare’s Plays.



Live Botanicals


Seed to seed

The vanity of theology


The disapperance of any tree

Earthbound religion



The gift of duality


The dark system

Of Linnaeus


Silent poets

Of time and flowers


Slightly pencilled

The moss still blooming

Green Man.jpg