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The Poinsettia

Few flowering plants say Christmas (or December) the way poinsettias do. I found this beautiful one a few weeks ago at Devon House in Kingston.

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Pointsettia, maynefoto

The Jamaican poet, Claude McKay, wrote the following poem, Flame Heart, in praise of the poinsettia. It sums up some of my feelings since I returned home — there’s much that I’ve forgotten about this place but I haven’t forgotten the poinsettia. Now, in addition to the traditional red, there are white, pink, variegated ones.

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Poinsettia, maynefoto

Flame Heart

So much have I forgotten in ten years,

So much in ten brief years! I have forgot

What time the purple apples come to juice,

And what month brings the shy forget-me-not.

I have forgot the special, startling season

Of the pimento’s flowering and fruiting;

What time of year the ground doves brown the fields

And fill the noonday with their curious fluting.

I have forgotten much, but still remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.


I still recall the honey-fever grass,

But cannot recollect the high days when

We rooted them out of the ping-wing path

To stop the mad bees in the rabbit pen.

I often try to think in what sweet month

The languid painted ladies used to dapple

The yellow by-road mazing from the main,

Sweet with the golden threads of the rose-apple.

I have forgotten—strange—but quite remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.


What weeks, what months, what time of the mild year

We cheated school to have our fling at tops?

What days our wine-thrilled bodies pulsed with joy

Feasting upon blackberries in the copse?

Oh some I know! I have embalmed the days,

Even the sacred moments when we played,

All innocent of passion, uncorrupt,

At noon and evening in the flame-heart’s shade.

We were so happy, happy, I remember,

Beneath the poinsettia’s red in warm December.


  1. totsymae1011

    I saw a poinsetta plant yesterday and just remembered I’d not seen any this season. I didn’t know they came in any other color besides red. Interesting. I used to touch the redness of the poinsetta and rub it as if the color would come off on my fingers. It’s so very red, it doesn’t look real.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..On Getting Here from ThereMy Profile

  2. Andrew Graeme Gould

    Lovely, Marcia! I hope you had a great time at Christmas!!!
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted..Santiago, Chile: Museo Ferroviario / Railway museumMy Profile

  3. I did, Andrew. Hope you did too.
    Glad you like.

  4. You’re so right, Totsy. They’re unbelievably red. I’ve just noticed these hybrids here this year.
    It’s interesting to see the not red ones.

  5. They are lovely but the commenter above is right. I didn’t see any this year in my local nurseries… 🙂
    ElizOF recently posted..On Blogging: Can We Talk?My Profile

  6. Seems they’ve been late blooming. I see a lot of plants in private gardens now.