“Alack, ’tis he! Why, he was met even now.
As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
With hardocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckooflowers,
Darnell, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.”
King Lear (IV.iv.1-6).
Here, cut from the root, no longer meddling with the corn, simple sticks, chopped and stacked one upon another. These stately stems, once alive, growing, flowering and weeping their vicious brew, now stilled, dried, silent. Did Socrates appreciate their quiet beauty, their mottled skin, their hollow souls, as he drifted away, cut from life’s moorings by that savory tea? Reputedly, he did not, according to Plato’s account he was more concerned with paying homage to Asclepius to whom he owed a cock. Would, perhaps, the outcome have been different for poor Socrates if the debt had been paid in advance?
Such is my contemplation upon the Conium maculatum stalks.