Sweet William

A poem by Hilary Venn

As Margaret looks deep into the Sweet William she holds in her hand, she speaks to her lover across the oceans and hears his words of love echo back to her. Those who know Scotland may recognise that not all the names given to this flower are complimentary.

Sweet, sweet William

This perfect bloom, our perfect love, so pure, so free

My heart is warm, my longing heart is full 

Are you there, sweet William?  Are you there?

I’m here

Don’t fear

I see the white rings of innocence, your love spread wide

The crimson centre of your heart’s true passion

Is it for me, sweet William?  For me?

For you, my love

For you, my dove

And why, sweet William, these other blooms?

Can you have more hearts than one?

I have one alone, it is for you.  Will you be true?


To you

William, shall I doubt your honeyed words?

That innocence, that passion true to me alone?

Those other blooms, those other loves, and who are they?

Trust me, my love

Trust me, my dove

And these dark stamens, these daggers in your breast?

Will you pierce my own, sweet William?

Will nectar and a blade rive my aching heart?

My dear

Don’t fear

And now I see, I see your fickle soul

That tainted innocence, that broken trust

I choose to doubt, I choose to live again

Don’t leave

My dear, believe

And now my empty heart is cold

I see the blood red of your cruel heart

No more, Sweet William – 

Sour Billy, Stinking Willie

I hear your silence, I speak your shame.