What’s in the words

We visited the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh during the Festival. The theme was how art in the 18h and 19th Centuries began to focus on the mundane, epitomised by Pissarro’s praise of the humble cabbage. This poem sprang from that.



If you listen to the fashionistas of the modern culinary arts,

When they describe perfect roasts or sumptuous lemon tarts,

You’ll hear their words of praise for all those fruits and meat

And how to meld their flavours, comingling savoury with sweet.


And even though they often play an important supporting role,

The humble vegetable is still more courtesan than prole.

The muscular potato or statuesque carrot

Are stables of the table, more often praised than not.


But down amongst the also rans, the forgotten men of food

Whose highest praise is usually ‘Eat up, they’ll do you good’

Besides that distorted vege-beast, the emblem of our drab age

Reviled at school, the pauper’s feast, there rests the simple cabbage.


Let us look beyond this unfairly labelled legume

And restore it to its rightful place where it once more may bloom

Like a cleaned, restored Old Master, a refurbished classic car

As good as oil of castor, the five star brassica.


Some may moan and cry for help

And groan out loud if offered kelp.

While others quail, and kick and shout

And turn quite pale, at the thought of sprouts.

And then there’s those, who duck and cower

And turn up their nose at the cauliflower.

And this same team will not risk the mockery

Of being seen enjoying broccoli.


But there are men, free men prepared to stand

And defend, till death, these fruits of our land.

Monet, Renoir, the bearded Pissarro

They didn’t paint the pea or the marrow.


No, for them, there was no finer joy

Than to fix, on canvas, the sweet green savoy.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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7 Responses to What’s in the words

  1. trifflepudling says:

    Not being a huge veg fan, they do often look wonderful in art, though. Love carrots, and here’s a great carrot site, showing them in fine art. V interesting and fun.
    Nice poem, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Love to eat ’em, not so keen on viewing those fruits and veggies in art. They just sit there. THIS was brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

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