The Sun Underfoot Among The Sundews

An ingenuity too astonishing
to be quite fortuitous is
this bog full of sundews, sphagnum-
lined and shaped like a teacup.
A step
down and you’re into it; a
wilderness swallows you up:
ankle-, then knee-, then midriff-
to-shoulder-deep in wetfooted
understory, an overhead
spruce-tamarack horizon hinting
you’ll never get out of here.
But the sun
among the sundews, down there,
is so bright, an underfoot
webwork of carnivorous rubies,
a star-swarm thick as the gnats
they’re set to catch, delectable
double-faced cockleburs, each
hair-tip a sticky mirror
afire with sunlight, a million
of them and again a million,
each mirror a trap set to
unhand believing,
that either
a First Cause said once, “Let there
be sundews,” and there were, or they’ve
made their way here unaided
other than by that backhand, round-
about refusal to assume responsibility
known as Natural Selection.
But the sun
underfoot is so dazzling
down there among the sundews,
there is so much light
in that cup that, looking,
you start to fall upward.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Amy Clampitt's poem The Sun Underfoot Among The Sundews


  1. Gunnar Bengtsson says:

    You are welcome to use this poem as an example, but I have edited the fourth line of the poem to properly reflect the published version. It is very difficult to keep thousands of poems and biographies completely free of typographical and factual errors, but rest assured that I do my very best.

  2. B. Inglesby says:

    The poem, as you have posted it, contains a typographical error on the fourth line: it should read “sphagnum-lined”–not “sphagnum-lines.” I plan to use this site as an example of the unreliability of internet sources with careless editors, as compared to original published texts available in the library. I’m sure my college freshmen will benefit from such a comparison as they prepare to research poems for their oral presentations.

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