Cornflower, Ergot, Poppy by Elke Erb

My love, you heard, you hear

them, your brothers, brethren, the seven

swans, you heard, heat their feathers - 

voices in the sky -


Wrists whistling

blessing the herdess.


My love, I thought, for me there grew

no brothers in the field, brothers in the field.


Why did I scorn to greet the corn?

Stiff as a rod. 


Stones, roused, eying

knights, charmed to life, still play

the violin on broken vows. 


Why "Cornflower, Ergot, Poppy"? You may ask yourself regarding the name of this poem. I asked myself exactly the same question.


For me personally, the answer lies in the seven swans.


The fairytale "The Six Swans" tells the story of a princess and her six brothers, who were turned into swans when undergarments made out of stinging nettle were thrown over them. The words of a spell had been woven and sewn into the very fabric of these garments, symbolic of the power of our intentions.


The swans themselves symbolise that the mind has detached itself from the body, lost in daydreams and madness.


So, why seven swans? Perhaps the poet is the seventh swan? Perhaps she has lost her mind? Could it be from heartache? Or loss?


The Cornflower heals those who love her most. There is hope for the lost in the depth of her blue flower.


Ergot is a fungus which grows on rye and other cereals. It is poisonous. Early symptoms include hallucinations and convulsions. It is  believed that ergot led to the Salem Witch Trials, in which the effects of ergotism were recorded.


Furthermore, opium is derived from the Poppy. In Greek and Roman mythology Poppies were used as offerings to the dead, symbolising eternal sleep. They are also a symbol for the Triple Moon Goddess, representing life, death and rebirth.


Perhaps if I were to research the analysis of this poem I would find a completely different answer... but this is how Elke Erb's poem speaks to me. Through the power of her words, a little bit of madness and being reborn through the love of the Cornflower.