Let me play to you tunes without measure or end,
Flowers. A flower-bed like hearing the bagpipes. -Hugh MacDiarmid, 1962
Tunes that are born to die without a herald,
As a flight of storks rises from a marsh, circles,
And alights on the spot from which it rose.
The fine black earth has clotted into sharp masses
As if the frost and not the sun had come.
It holds many lines of flowers.
First faint rose peonies, then peonies blushing,
Then again red peonies, and, behind them,
Massive, apoplectic peonies, some of which are so red
And so violent as to seem almost black; behind these
Stands a low hedge of larkspur, whose tender apologetic blossoms
Appear by contrast pale, though some, vivid as the sky above them,
Stand out from their fellows iridescent and slaty as a pigeon's breast,
The bagpipes -- they are screaming and they are sorrowful.
There is a wail in their merriment, and cruelty in their triumph.
They rise and they fall like a weight swung in the air at the end of a string.
They are like the red blood of those peonies.
And like the melancholy of those blue flowers.
They are like a human voice -- no! for the human voice lies!
They are like human life that flows under the words.
That flower-bed is like the true life that wants to express itself
And does...while we human beings lie cramped and fearful.
Flowers. A flower-bed like hearing the bagpipes.
-Hugh MacDiarmid, 1962