BurnedThumb

Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


thyme


  • It’s Still About the Herbs

    herb garden with lavender stoechas foxglove and costmary

    I keep saying I’ve finished the herb poems, and they still keep coming. In today’s Atrium you will find the one about costmary – the long grey-green leaved one in the centre, just behind the lavender stoechas. This picture might be familiar – it is one of the headers on the site, and the source for the silhouette on my business cards. Atrium is one of the best on-line poetry journals going, and I’m very flattered by being published there. I’m very fond of the poem too – it was longlisted for the Poetry Society competition on its first outing, which was a great honour.

    And then, last night the inventive Objet-A Creative launched Becoming Botanical.

    cover of anthology, grey with line drawings

    You can find out all about the project on the website, and even see the digital version, but I promise you, you’ll want the actual book. My poem, The Herb for Nightmares, is in it, and I was there to read it, along with Bradley Fairclough, who wrote about a fungus called cramp ball, which could smoulder gently for days, and was used to carry fire on long journeys, and Josh Armstrong, the director of the project. It was a very stylist event, sponsored by Botanist Gin, which formed the basis of some very classy cocktails. I don’t drink, so I had the soft version – a hawthorn blossom soda – it was amazing! I have never really like elder flower cordial, but I can see myself making one with hawthorn blossom next year. There was gorse, nettle and rhubarb too, all concocted by Josh, which I might have to try sometime too.

    You can find out all about the project on the website, and even see the digital version, but I promise you, you’ll want the actual book. My poem, The Herb for Nightmares, is in it, and I was there to read it, along with Bradley Fairclough, who wrote about a fungus called cramp ball, which could smoulder gently for days, and was used to carry fire on long journeys, and Josh Armstrong, the director of the project. It was a very stylist event, sponsored by Botanist Gin, which formed the basis of some very classy cocktails. I don’t drink, so I had the soft version – a hawthorn blossom soda – it was amazing! I have never really like elder flower cordial, but I can see myself making one with hawthorn blossom next year. There was gorse, nettle and rhubarb too, all concocted by Josh, which I might have to try sometime too.

    It’s been a miserable week for rain – though the garden needs it! But if the sun comes out tomorrow, I’m going to pick thyme for drying, before I go the the Red Squirrel Press launch of Peter Jarvis’ Land the Colour of Heat and Helena Nelson’s Branded in the Scottish Poetry Library, at 3 pm – later than usual, because of another booking. It doesn’t matter how much of this poetry stuff I do, I still seem to be all about the herbs!

    thyme, with a bumble bee feeding

  • The Charm of Nine Herbs 8 and 9 Thyme and Fennel

    Two for the price of one this time.

     

     

    Thyme and fennel, * all-powerful both
    The Lord wisely * shaped these herbs
    Holy in heaven * where he hung
    Established and sent them * into the seven kingdoms
    To heal the rich * and the poor alike
    They will stand against pain, * they will combat the plague
    Fight against three * and against thirty
    Against the devil * and the terror
    against the wiles * of evil creatures.

    There is some argument that the eighth herb should be chervil rather than thyme, but I am not convinced. Chervil is negligible medicinally, whereas thyme is seen as very powerful to this day. Fennel is used as a digestive herb, soothing cramps, and easing the liver. Historically it has always been associated especially with fish, counteracting the oiliness of salmon, and perhaps mellowing the tang of salted cod or herring. It was used against witchcraft, and said to improve eyesight.

    Thyme is still used as a decongestant – thymol is an ingredient of all those chest rubs for coughs and colds – and a disinfectant. Recent research suggested that it is even effective against MRSA and clostridium difficile, but I have not heard the outcome. Interestingly, however, I discovered that at one time it was used for stress, for nightmares, and against ‘phrensie and lethargy’ – an Elizabethan phrase, I imagine, for bipolar disorder.

    The rest of the charm consists of instructions for the administration of the herbs. These are pretty difficult, some of them magical incantations and/or Christian prayers, some of them practical. I will be posting them next week.

     

     

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