Tales of Tall Poppies

The header picture is a poppy in the front garden. It was taken at about 10 am and the petals are still crumpled from being in the bud. They don’t last long, by 2 pm, as a previous photo showed, they are already losing their petals. It’s a hard life being a poppy. As a man who is crumpled from life, and has bits falling off, I sympathise with these flowers.

Poppy - already falling apart

Poppy – already falling apart

I am, as I have often mentioned, 61 years old, and have spoken English all my life. I have read extensively and must have heard millions of words spoken. Today, on Pointless, I heard about tall poppies for the first time.

It seems it is a well known idiom, but it has passed me by. It’s not one of these words that has suddenly appeared either, it was first used in English in 1710 and dates back to Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last King of Rome.

It is also, it seems, a common figure of speech in Australia and New Zealand.

I feel happy to have found a new concept in English, but very ignorant not to have already known it.

meadow flower poppy wild poppies

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

This is another stock photo, as none of my poppies look particularly tall.

I will leave you with a link to a poem about tall nettles by Edward Thomas. I’ve put it in the blog several times, so sorry to be repetitive, but I can’t think of too many poems featuring tall flowers.

According to Thomas’s Wikipedia entry the Petersfield Museum holds 1,800 books about Thomas in a study centre. I think I’ve read three. The feeling of ignorance persists…

18 thoughts on “Tales of Tall Poppies

  1. Clare Pooley

    I had never heard of tall poppies either, though know the expression ‘cutting people down to size’. Thank you for the link back to your post with Edward Thomas’s poem; one of my favourite authors and a favourite poem of his.

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  3. tootlepedal

    It is a familiar expression to me though I think of it in the context of the politics of envy, bringing down the brightest and the best, rather than cutting the boastful and presumptuous down to size. I see that I may have to change my view about that.

  4. Lavinia Ross

    The poppies are beautiful, crumpled and all, a short but sweet life. The tall poppies expression is a new one to me, too. I always manage to learn something new here. ๐Ÿ™‚


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