Dante and Daisies

Daisies in the Inferno –

When reading Canto 2 of  ‘Hell – Dante’s Divine Trilogy Part One Decorated and Englished in Prosaic Verse by Alasdair Gray’, these lines ‘leapt of the page’ –

‘Why all this cowardice? Have you no pride?


As daisies folding petals up at night,

heavy with frozen dew, lean to the ground

until the rising sun’s warm gift of light


thaws and unbends and opens them, I found

at last my crippled courage stand upright.

Like one set free I cried, ‘Let us go on!”

Other translations by  HF Carey, DL Sayers and more recently Robin Kirkpatrick merely refer to flowers or florets, but Alasdair Gray was right to name the daisies and give credit to those insignificant flowers so often dismissed as weeds. It’s a lovely image in amongst the horrors of hell.

We can learn from these tiny plants, just as we can learn from the willow that bends in the wind and survives when the ash and oak may be losing branches.

The following poem was written a few years ago when hundreds of these remarkable plants survived  to raise their heads in our garden each morning.

Bellis Perennis

Low growing plant…

Leaves spoon shaped,

weakly toothed and stalked.

Growing in a basal rosette

Common in garden lawns.’


A thousand eyes – daisies, day’s eyes

waiting to greet me.


Memories of childhood








a thought

to the






in the sun,

losing life.


My daisies;


of slugs and snails,

lift their morning

faces to the sun and

retire modestly

behind pink night caps

as night returns.


Growing in a basal rosette

                                                Common in garden lawns.’