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Letter on the elements of chanterelle: Addressed to the void.

Chanterelle

Chanterelle

Chanterelle mushrooms from the woods by which I grew up.

I’ve never read a poem about chanterelle, though I feel I should have. They seem more like flowers than fungi. However, Best American poetry created a Recipe for Pied Beauty (the Hopkins poem), and assigned chanterelle to finches’ wings. That seems like a poem in itself. Even if you don’t have all the ingredients for Pied Beauty; they’re delicious with just a little olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary.

Searching for their literary home, I discovered that Rousseau in his Letters on the elements of botany: Addressed to a lady claimed they sprout in fairy rings. (The original text may be found in its entirety at the above link, but I must credit to the OED with its discovery.) The history of botany/biology as the ladylike science is interesting, but more than I can cover here. All I will say that in Scotland they do not grow in rings, but are scattered like nails hammered in by a mad spirit.

 

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