Dorothy Una Ratcliffe Poems >>
Japonica

An old dalewoman speaks:
"JAPONICA! Ay, it makes a brave show,
But none on 'em grow as they used to grow!
It's goin' on well
But it's smallish; hasta iver heard tell
Of Olverton Peel? Aa! yance on a time
When Faither an' Muther wur in ther prime
T' grandest Japonica covered our byre:
Anuther grew ower t' front door, it wur fire
During March days. Folk came fra' doon-dale
To see 'em. Thoo thinks it nobbut a tale!

"T' walls o' t' owd Peel wur a limestone, leet grey,
An' mony a time I'se heard artists say
Nowt could be finer; nearby ran a hedge
O' velvety yews wiv an up an' doon edge
Like walls o' a castle; close at theer feet
Wur crocuses gowd-a wonnerful seet-
Then a green loaning, wheer t' first cletch o' chicks
Wur reared, an' beyant it fourteen girt ricks.

"When Japonica bloomed, I first went to school,
I mind, even noo, I felt sich a fool
When teacher said, 'Lil, what's t' bonniest thing
Thoo's seen?' An' wick as an ousel on wing
I answered, 'Japonica!' She said, 'I think
Lil means a creeper wi' blossom o' pink'.
For a' her book-larnin' she wurn't wise,
An' sin then I'se lamed t' books mainly is lies,
An' maist o' t' girt volumes writ aboot flowers
Give 'em hard Latin names varra different to ours.

"When Kit an' I promised each other, that eve,
How Japonica flowered, thoo'd hardlins believe!
An' t' followin' year on t' day we wur wed
A hundred buds showed ther tips o' breet red.
Against our home-comin' a champion lot
Wur waitin' on us in a girt pewter pot. . . .
An' when on that niver-to-be-forgit morn
We lost our lile Jane, our bonny first-born,
My owd Daddy made fra' Japonica sprays
A parfit lile cross 'at wur luvely for days.

"Then t' back-end our youngest lad threw down his rake
Wi' 'Mammy, goodbye, I mun leave thee for t' sake
O' t' lads 'at are fightin',' a girt branch decayed
An' wur carted away wi' brother John's aid. . . .
Sin' that wet gloamin' when t' telegram came
Nowt has been t' same:
Flowers came so sudden they seemed like a flood,
As daft Pattie said, 'o' blossomin' blood!'
No matter if t' year wur good, middlin' or bad,
Japonica's flowered! Of course thoo is glad
Because thi Japonica makes a brave show,
But it doesn't grow, darlin', as ours used to grow."