I need help finding a poem published in Harper's Magazine?
July 4, 2014 10:28 AM   Subscribe

This question refers to an earlier one I asked back in 2011, when people helped by searching the data bases of the New Yorker magazine, as I had done, and also the Atlantic Monthly.

Does anyone have access to the data base of Harper's Magazine?
The poem is called "Poinsettias" and was probably published in late 1980 or early 1981. I now realize the magazine may have been Harper's.
The poem deals with the progress of time and inevitable loss. The gist of the poem is that enclosed within the red blossoms are the harbingers of decay, of ending---that even as the plants bloom, there is evidence of their eventual ends.
"Poinsettias" helped us in our grieving over the sudden death of my father at that time, and I wanted to find it at the time of the sudden loss of my lifelong best friend in 2011.
The last line reads something like this: "Take my hands and bless them, as they bless what they long to keep."


Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks so much!
posted by ragtimepiano to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
A further line is something like, "...that time of parting/the time which we are never sufficiently shored against"...
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:33 AM on July 4, 2014

I've found a reference----the poem may be one including several parts, and entitled "Iris", by Rachel Hadas, in the January 1983 archive?---Not entitled "Poinsettia"?
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:45 AM on July 4, 2014

I found the poem "Iris", from the January 1983 Harper's issue:


by Rachel Hadas

How to make such it package that unwrap-
ping layer past layer, curling inside out
unfolds a flower? Colors must be known
before prepetals venture into sun.

Yet the bud's seal once broken, although slowly
and in response to fullness, ruffles droop,
tints fade, ripeness slumps to overripe.
Abeyance had more power to evoke

wonder; and wonder, says the length of June,
is richer in the heralding than what
will follow. These unopened petals wrap
finally the rotting of delight.

I hope this is the poem you're looking for! I searched but couldn't find any poems titled or containing the word "Poinsettias".
posted by rose-selavy at 11:08 AM on July 4, 2014

sorry, the first line should read "such a package"!
posted by rose-selavy at 11:18 AM on July 4, 2014

Oh, thanks you so very much, rose-selavy and knappster! These poems are wonderful. "Holding" is the one I was looking for, and somehow had thought some of the lines were incorporated in the Poinsettia poem. "Iris" has exactly the same theme as the poem for which I am still looking, which mentions the black area at the heart of the poinsettia blossoms.
posted by ragtimepiano at 1:55 PM on July 4, 2014

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