Snakes head fritillary

I had not known this about snake’s head fritillaries till I read Anne Riddler’s poem of that name. That if you level your eyes with the flower as the sun slants low and look through the petals, the world is dappled too. And until you have seen a field of fritillaries in life there is something missing – a treat in store.

In Romania, one time, we chanced upon a field dotted with wild snakeshead fritillaries and afterwards there was a child whose head was garlanded with wild flowers and we tutted with the waste. Yet now, the simple beauty of the child and the moment and the field of fritillaries, all transient, seem immortalised in memory and not wasted at all.

A type of lilly with various names that conjure such connotations frog-cup, guinea-hen flower, guinea flower, leper lily (because its shape resembled the bell once carried by lepers), Lazarus bell, chequered lily, chequered daffodil, drooping tulip or, in northern Europe, simply fritillary.

More about Anne Riddler can be found in the poetry archive. https:// www.poetryarchive.org

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