The Seed Shop

Muriel Stuart

Muriel Stuart

 One of the lovely poems that I learnt at school was, “The Seed Shop”, by Muriel Stuart.  I was thinking of it this morning, at the same time as planning to save runner bean seed, which seems about ready for harvesting now.  I recall us studying the poem in class and how much it affected me and my growing love of the natural world.  The potential in a handful of seeds is something that still causes me wonder and joy.  When pottering in an old shed and seeing paper bags full of seed heads and dried pods ready to have their seeds separated out and put in envelopes and labeled, the lines of this poem go through my head, and the amazing life that is God’s creation in its complexity and wonder is all there.  Here is the poem:


Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,

Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,

Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry -

Meadows and gardens running through my hand.


In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams;

A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust

That will drink deeply of a century's streams;

These lilies shall make summer on my dust.


Here in their safe and simple house of death,

Sealed in their shells, a million roses leap;

Here I can blow a garden with my breath,

And in my hand a forest lies asleep. 


I particularly love the last two lines!


John Mann