The fruit of love ~ Quince

It is yellow in colour, as if it wore a daffodil
tunic, and it smells like musk, a penetrating smell.

It has the perfume of a loved woman and the same
hardness of heart, but it has the colour of the
impassioned and scrawny lover.

Its pallor is borrowed from my pallor; its smell
is my sweetheart’s breath.

When it stood fragrant on the bough and the leaves
had woven for it a covering of brocade,

I gently put up my hand to pluck it and to set it
like a censer in the middle of my room.

It had a cloak of ash-coloured down hovering over
its smooth golden body,

and when it lay naked in my hand, with nothing more than
its daffodil-coloured shift,

it made me think of her I cannot mention, and I feared
the ardour of my breath would shrivel it in my fingers.

Isn’t that Aphrodite’s apple?

Shafer ben Utman al-Mushafi

Image from wikipedia

I had a wonderful day trip to Brogdale Farm, an orchard in Kent which houses the national fruit collection. We wandered through the ranks of apples, pears, cherries and plums. Wondering at the varieties grown, how the trees were pruned, how they would look in May when the blossom is out, and at the many shapes, sizes and colours of the fruit grown. And yes we sampled the windfall.

We came across the Quince orchard, and I don’t think I’ve ever seem a quince tree before, or not knowingly. These strange pale yellow-green fruit with a slight fury-downy coating caught my attention. But it is their scent that has lingered with me. I picked a few from the ground and now have them in a bowl in my study. Their sweet scent fills the room as I write this.

And of course I had to look and read up about these magical fruit. They are used to make jelly, jam and puddings, or they can be stuffed with meat and herbs and baked.  But having heard how long they take to cook, and their general impenetrability, I’ve decided to be content to look on them and enjoy their scent.

Quince ~ the fruit of love

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12 comments

  • Love the poem! I recently learned that in the past two centuries, qunice was widespread in the US for use in jam making, as it is an excellent source of pectin. I’ve never seen one, but am oh so curious now…

    • Thanks Ali. I hadn’t realised Quince had been so popular in the US, I know it’s grown widely in the Med, the Middle East and China. As always it’s great to learn something new! Let me know if you get to try some

    • thanks for your kind words, I loved the poem and it’s made me think a bit more about the connections of growing/food with literature, something I’d like to explore a bit more.

  • That’s a beautiful poem!
    never ate a quince but recently tried the Balkan alcohol made of quince and it’s the best booze ever!

    Here in The Netherlands quinces can be bought in Turkish shops. I love food in combination with literature!

  • Oooo boozy quince, I’m loving the idea! They are tough things to break into, but once you are in they have a gentle frangrance to them. A friend made a crumble with apples, berries and quince. And the quince really stood out from the crowd.
    I hadn’t thought of looking in turkish shops, so thanks for the tip

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