Fairy Slippers on the Ides of March


“Beware the frozen Ides of March.”

The quote is from a poem called “Fairly Slippers” in the book Hungry Moon by Henrietta Goodman. “Fairy Slippers” refers to a species of orchids known as Calypso bulbosa (image). These orchids are known to pollinate by deception because they attract insects to their yellow hairs but produce no nectar for the nourishment of the insects. The orchids can also cause skin irritation or allergic reaction to humans who handle them.

The poem starts off with the quote “Beware the frozen Ides of March,” as a warning to those who may be deceived, that the flowers will begin to bloom from late March and onwards. The author refers to Ides of March as “frozen”, branding it with a dark and gloomy connotation that the blooming of the flowers will never end after mid-March, which is the case with these orchids until they die, five years later. The author expects the reader to understand that “Ides of March” refers to the middle of March, and states her opinion that it is a bad thing by calling it “frozen”, and cautioning her readers to “beware”.

Quote from Cassius Dio:

“And when the right moment came, one of them approached him, as if to express his thanks for some favour or other, and pulled his toga from his shoulder, thus giving the signal that had been agreed upon by the conspirators. Thereupon they attacked him from many sides at once and wounded him to death so that by reason of their numbers Caesar was unable to say or do anything, but veiling his face, was slain with many wounds….Then all the rest, severally taking up the cry one from another, kept shouting these words, filled the city with lamentations…”

This quote which recounts the assassination of Julius Cesar compliments the attitude in the poem “Fairy Slippers”. The attitude in this quote of the “Ides of March” is of “lamentations”, as the day Julis Caesar was assassinated was a day of grief and despair for everyone. Similarly in the poem, “Ides of March” marks a day of deception and gloom because of the orchids. In reference to Julius Caesar, the “Ides of March” is a grim representation of his being deceived and assassinated, and in the Fairy Slippers too, it is a reference to insects and humans being deceived and harmed.


Fairy Slipper (Entire Poem)

Beware the frozen Ides of March. Beware the self-betrayal of a little knowledge poorly applied. Next time he rolls toward you in the hour before dawn, you will say yes no matter what he has or hasn’t done. You will listen to gesture, not word. Not the fairy slipper, but the way it unfurls like a squid, the gray fur at its heart. You would take any flower now, even the drunken flower of his breath, the exhaust atomized, damp and oily in his clothes. Even the flower of his waiting while you pour a thermos of coffee. Even to read the forecast with him, to see in the string of letters and numbers br, which is mist, to hear him say in your ear Baby Rain, flower of recognition, under snow.


Goodman, Henrietta. Hungry Moon, University Press of Colorado, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brooklyn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3039825.
Created from brooklyn-ebooks on 2017-11-26 10:43:14.


Isra, Team Minerva