Thistles, those spiked warrior plants, are a nuisance, are only good for cows to munch, if we are to believe the poet Ted Hughes. But is that really the case? Let's look at thistles again. This time through the eyes of the Austrian poet Christine Busta.
WHEN YOU PAINT THE ARMS OF LOVE,
do not forget the thistle!
The gentle friend of the bumblebee and butterfly,
the comforter of the donkey's patience,
the avenger of the defenceless, the weak,
the valiant one who rips the skin of the executioner
and him with his soul prepared
already flown to a future summer
safe from the axe that felled him.
Paint the purple of the courageous
and the dusty grey of the invincible.
Paint it tenderly and imperturbably:
this annoyance from the creator's hand -
all you, who only live from bread.
translated by Gwilym Williams
12th February 2009