poetry and prose about place

the wisdom of faerie tales

with 2 comments

As I write and revise the poetry for my ‘garden escapes‘ project, I search for references to enrich my poems. One category of these is the faerie tale. Many faerie tales include gardens in their tale-telling. Some include wisdom to be applied to my experience of the abandoned garden.


I have chosen three faerie tales to include in my poems:

Rapunzel: the beautiful girl with the long, long hair is imprisoned in the tower because her father makes a bargain with a witch. In one version of the tale, the father steals rampion bellflower from the witch’s garden and gives his daughter as compensation.

Beauty and the Beast: a beautiful girl falls in love with an ugly beast. The tale tells us that you must sometimes look beneath the exterior to find inner beauty. This is another tale where a father is caught stealing a flower (a rose) from a garden and gives his daughter as compensation. Hmmmm.

Sleeping Beauty: when the princess is put to sleep, a thorny vine grows around the castle to hide her away.


I have included these faerie tales in three of the poems I have written. Below is my poem incorporating the tale of Sleeping Beauty.


wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)


I think the story of Sleeping Beauty requires a little retelling, to make the princess less compliant. The three vines in the poem are:

  • Clematis (Clematis virginiana): names include virgin’s bower and devil’s darning needle. This climbing vine has delicate white flowers and fluffy seeds
  • Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia): an aggressive climber with leaves palmately divided into five lobes
  • Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata): a prickly annual vine and a climber with tall columns of white flowers


Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)


Sleeping Beauty


“… round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of thorns, which every year became higher, and at last grew close up round the castle and all over it, so that there was nothing of it to be seen … ” –The Tale of Sleeping Beauty, the Brothers Grimm


three vines whisper—

Clematis virginiana

Virginia creeper

wild cucumber, reshape

the hawthorn, the rose

with frail flowers

and five fingers

tendrils like springs

disguise the thorns


keep curiosity seekers away


dampen noises from

beyond the barrier

where wakeful Beauty

taps her nails

on foundation granite

wonders if anyone

will dare to tear

at tendrils, breach wall

of thorn and vine


the need for rescue always in doubt


only decades ago

a home chuckled

behind the hedgerow

mowed lawn and a dyer’s garden

tansy at the cellar door

flax in the meadow

Beauty dibbling seeds

deadheading flowers

tying up sweet pea


only the cellar remains


perhaps she will slash

her way through hawthorn

rip out wild cucumber

scrape away suckers of creeper

tame the hawthorn, the briar

renovate house and barn

encourage the scent of sweet pea and petunia

transparency of hollyhock and mallow

whisper of yellow rattle, rustle of grasses


no more virgin’s bower


Clematis virginiana


This work was made possible by a Creations Grant from artsnb!


All my best.

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Written by jane tims

September 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Beautifully written – I love how you incorpated the plants into the classic fairy tale.

    Liked by 1 person


    September 7, 2020 at 5:22 pm

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