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Poem of Poppies

Every Friday night a group of friends and I met at my house to enjoy our true passion: drink good Scotch whisky, literature and smoking. Not any kind of literature, we liked poetry; not any kind of smoking, we liked to smoke poppies; so we shared together the visions we had through our psychedelic journeys. We only read one poem of poppies, in order to discuss it thoroughly.

We started our party discussing about the origins of poppies, the new discoveries made among us. Freddy started telling us an interesting Greek theory he read at the university’s library: “Demeter, so the Greek legend goes, created the poppy for the purpose of getting some sleep after the loss of her daughter Persephone. The twin brothers Hypnos (meaning Sleep) and Thanatos (meaning Death) were represented crowned with poppies or carrying the poppy in their hands. Obviously the Greek were conscious that a merciful sleep induced by opium could lead to death. Pliny gave in one breath a careful description of how to collect raw opium and in the next issued a warning that "taken in too large quantities are productive of sleep unto death even." Dioscorides said bluntly "being drunk too much...it kills."

Pete brought some interesting information about history celebrities that supposedly took opium, some of them sound obvious and others sound incredible that were addicts, Pete read the following list: Marcus Aurelius, Charles Baudelaire, Elizabeth Barret Browning, William S Burroughs, Robert Clive, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wilkie Collins, George Crabbe, Heinrich Dresser, Galen, Hippocrates, John Keats, Hans Kosterlitz, Linnaeus, André Malraux, Paracelsus, Candace Pert, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas de Quincey, Wilhelm Sertuner, Thomas Sydenham, and William Wilberforce. “That is good stuff, but what about our poem of poppies?” said Robert. “Take it easy, Robert, I brought our poem of poppies” said Mark. After one or two coughs, he cleared his voice and started reading: This is a poem by Sylvia Plath; it was written and published in 1960. I found it in a volume called “The collected poems”. The name of the poem is Poppies in July. He read it with a feeling no one could match.

Poppies in July

Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?
You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns


And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.

A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!


There are fumes I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?
If I could bleed, or sleep! -
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!
Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.

But colorless. Colorless

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