Redux: Emily’s Other Daffodil



Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.



This week, we help you usher in the month of May with a bouquet of archival reads. Learn about John Fowles’s wild-orchid hobby in his Art of Fiction interview; follow the hunt for a flatware pattern in Belle Boggs’s story “Imperial Chrysanthemum”; and read May Swenson’s Emily Dickinson–inspired poem “Daffodildo.”

John Fowles, The Art of Fiction No. 109
Issue no. 111 (Summer 1989)

For many years, and with rather more success, I have pursued wild orchids all over Europe and—through someone’s kind gift of Luer’s books—in imagination as well, all over the United States. When I was in a hospital bed just after having had a stroke recently, I was near weeping with self-rage and self-pity, reciting a mantra to myself: tenthredinifera, tenthredinifera, tenthredinifera … That unpronounceable name belongs to one of the most beautiful Ophrys, or bee orchids, of Europe. I had come upon it on a Cretan mountain the previous spring; and I was saying that name like a mantra because I thought I should never climb that remote mountain again. Nature regularly brings tears into my eyes; humans very, very seldom.



Imperial Chrysanthemum
By Belle Boggs
Issue no. 192 (Spring 2010)

Mrs. Cutie Young lives in two rooms and drives a 1982 Ford Country Squire with the wood stickers peeling off, but her silverware collection used to be worth thirty thousand dollars. I say used to because three weeks ago it was stolen right off the mahogany breakfront while she was out. I also should qualify that her house has plenty of rooms she isn’t using, and it is not Cutie Young who drives the Ford but me, her nurse. I do not know why Cutie has a nurse, or why, for that matter, people call her Cutie. She’s mean and stubborn and takes a long time in the toilet but other than that there’s nothing much wrong with her.


By May Swenson
Issue no. 127 (Summer 1993)
A daffodil from Emily’s lot
I lay beside her headstone
on the first day of May.
I brought
another with me, threaded
through my buttonhole, the spawn
of ancestor she planted
where, today,
I trod her lawn.
A yellow small decanter
of her perfume, hermit-wild
and without a stopper,
next to her stone I filed
to give her back her property—
it’s well it cannot spill.
Lolling on my jacket,
Emily’s other daffodil …


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