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bittersweet seville

A Poem by Maddie Sangway

bittersweet seville.

teased with lemons and honey

as i explore you


forever aware

of life’s beautiful upset,

these orange tree streets,


rose-tinted glasses,

to cover my tear-stained eyes.

how to build a home?


only one slight nudge,

and alone becomes lonely.

do you miss me too?


but, the sun whispers

with gold and peach and hope and

in this moment, peace


so, i am learning

me gustan tus naranjas,

bittersweet seville.

A Statement by Maddie Sangway on her process

A few years ago, I first came across Wendy Cope’s poem, The Orange. This poem has stuck with me ever since, its celebration of the tiny joys becoming my motto, so when I knew I was about to go to a city where orange trees line every street, I was so excited. I didn’t realise quite how many oranges there would be in Seville; they were the first thing I noticed when I stepped out of the airport. But as it turns out, despite their vibrant beauty, they are sour in taste, a reminder that not everything is as sweet as its outward appearance may suggest.


I found it a lot harder to settle into life here than I was expecting, and the phrase ‘bittersweet Seville’ got stuck in my head, looping over and over. Most evenings, I wound up at the riverside, watching the sunset, alongside happy strangers. Sitting in the most beautiful of locations, but feeling some of the loneliest I’ve ever felt. The contrast of the good and the ugly. The oranges metaphor.


I picked up my journal and pen and started to write out my feelings, as I always do, but something moved me to poetry. At some point I must have realised that ‘bittersweet Seville’ was five syllables, and from there I started to find more lines of five and seven syllables, getting such satisfaction from pinpointing my emotions in these precise lines. These little haikus came about so rapidly and so organically, sitting by the river, sitting in bed, trying to enjoy life here whilst trying not to cry, the bittersweetness of it all.

Back to BoundBy: Spring '24 (Edition #08)

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