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Björn here hosting Poetics. I have been thinking about words that inspire me when it suddenly hit me.

Today I wish you to use the name of poisonous plants in your poetry. For me there is a poetic beauty such lethal names as nightshade, belladonna, wolfsbane, foxglove and hemlock. Among poisonous plants are also the famous plants we use for drugs: poppy, hemp and tobacco.

The list is long, and the same plants also comes in many names.

Through the years there has been magic in those poisonous plants. Many have medicinal or narcotic purposes while other have been used for executions. For instance it is always said that Socrates had to empty a goblet of poison hemlock and opium.

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David

But poisonous plants have also more benign usages: for instance foxglove has been used as a heart medicine and belladonna gets his name because of its usage to dilate pupils making the eyes deeper and more beautiful.

The prompt is totally free but you have to include at least one poisonous plant. If you feel to use the name of the poisonous ingredient that’s fine as well.

So brew me potions, stew me roots. Today we bring poison to the bar.
Or if you rather, bring me the beauty or the good in these plants.
Or you can use the flower and its poison as a metaphor.

As an inspiration I give you Charles Baudelaire from Flowers of Evil (Fleurs du mal) — note the reference to Socrates in the last stanza.


Come, lie upon my breast, cruel, insensitive soul,
Adored tigress, monster with the indolent air;
I want to plunge trembling fingers for a long time
In the thickness of your heavy mane,

To bury my head, full of pain
In your skirts redolent of your perfume,
To inhale, as from a withered flower,
The moldy sweetness of my defunct love.

I wish to sleep! to sleep rather than live!
In a slumber doubtful as death,
I shall remorselessly cover with my kisses
Your lovely body polished like copper.

To bury my subdued sobbing
Nothing equals the abyss of your bed,
Potent oblivion dwells upon your lips
And Lethe flows in your kisses.

My fate, hereafter my delight,
I’ll obey like one predestined;
Docile martyr, innocent man condemned,
Whose fervor aggravates the punishment.

I shall suck, to drown my rancor,
Nepenthe and the good hemlock
From the charming tips of those pointed breasts
That have never guarded a heart.

Translated by — William Aggeler

Do I need to say that this is one of the poem censored in the original version of Fleur du Mal?

So when you have written your poem post it and link up below then enjoy the poems of others. Please leave a comment below and enjoy the discussions.