Marmalade, John Masefield and Alstroemeria

10 Jun

We bought our Seville Oranges for marmalade in February but froze the oranges as we were too busy to make it so yesterday we set to and made two batches of the glorious golden stuff. Making it, smelling it boiling, always takes me back to my childhood to the kitchen in Daniell Road, Truro, when my parents used to make enough to last the whole year. Today, I labelled the jars and here they are. The tiny jars are for Breakfast-in-Bed treats!

I was wondering why John Masefield’s poem had come into my head this morning and, as I wrote the above paragraph, realised that the poem and the marmalade making memories belong to the same era! I had to learn this poem by heart when in the top class at Bosvigo Junior School, aged about 11. I loved it then and I do now – it’s the rhythm, the alliteration, the assonance and the sheer magic of the exotic words. I never did like the last verse as much as the first two.


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

These Alstroemeria flowers are the lovely Mr S’s favourites.


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3 responses to “Marmalade, John Masefield and Alstroemeria

  1. valeriedavies

    June 20, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I learned that poem too, Sally, and also felt the same about the last verse. That poem been on my mind lately too…

  2. commonprose

    June 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Seville orange marmalade. Mmmmmmm! We buy it online from a Spanish import shop in Virginia. The poem goes perfectly with the marmalade story, even without the personal connection you have from your childhood. Seville oranges and exotic spices. Such smells and tastes. Add to it the colors of the Alstroemeria, and this post is a feast for the senses. The lovely Mr. S has excellent taste.

  3. arlene

    June 11, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Yeay, must be nice to have one of those 🙂


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