garden

The Faun

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Ha! sir, I have seen you sniffing and snoozling
about among my flowers.
And what, pray, do you know about
horticulture, you capriped?
‘Come, Auster, come Apeliota,
And see the faun in our garden.
But if you move or speak
This thing will run at you
And scare itself to spasms.’

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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Garden

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I

You are clear
O rose, cut in rock,
hard as the descent of hail.

I could scrape the colour
from the petals
like spilt dye from a rock.

If I could break you
I could break a tree.

If I could stir
I could break a tree—
I could break you.

II

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

 

– Hilda Doolittle

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The Definition Of Gardening

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Jim just loves to garden, yes he does.
He likes nothing better than to put on
his little overalls and his straw hat.
He says, ‘Let’s go get those tools, Jim.’
But then doubt begins to set in.
He says, ‘What is a garden, anyway?’
And thoughts about a ‘modernistic’ garden
begin to trouble him, eat away at his resolve.
He stands in the driveway a long time.
‘Horticulture is a groping in the dark
into the obscure and unfamiliar,
kneeling before a disinterested secret,
slapping it, punching it like a Chinese puzzle,
birdbrained, babbling gibberish, dig and
destroy, pull out and apply salt,
hoe and spray, before it spreads, burn roots,
where not desired, with gloved hands, poisonous,
the self-sacrifice of it, the self-love,
into the interior, thunderclap, excruciating,
through the nose, the earsplitting necrology
of it, the withering, shriveling,
the handy hose holder and Persian insect powder
and smut fungi, the enemies of the iris,
wireworms are worse than their parents,
there is no way out, flowers as big as heads,
pock-marked, disfigured, blinking insolently
at me, the me who so loves to garden
because it prevents the heaving of the ground
and the untimely death of porch furniture,
and dark, murky days in a large city
and the dream home under a permanent storm
is also a factor to keep in mind.’

 

– James Tate

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The Deserted Garden

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I mind me in the days departed,
How often underneath the sun
With childish bounds I used to run
To a garden long deserted.

The beds and walks were vanished quite;
And wheresoe’er had struck the spade,
The greenest grasses Nature laid
To sanctify her right.

I called the place my wilderness,
For no one entered there but I;
The sheep looked in, the grass to espy,
And passed it ne’ertheless.

The trees were interwoven wild,
And spread their boughs enough about
To keep both sheep and shepherd out,
But not a happy child.

Adventurous joy it was for me!
I crept beneath the boughs, and found
A circle smooth of mossy ground
Beneath a poplar tree.

Old garden rose-trees hedged it in,
Bedropt with roses waxen-white
Well satisfied with dew and light
And careless to be seen.

Long years ago it might befall,
When all the garden flowers were trim,
The grave old gardener prided him
On these the most of all.

Some lady, stately overmuch,
Here moving with a silken noise,
Has blushed beside them at the voice
That likened her to such.

And these, to make a diadem,
She often may have plucked and twined,
Half-smiling as it came to mind
That few would look at them.

Oh, little thought that lady proud,
A child would watch her fair white rose,
When buried lay her whiter brows,
And silk was changed for shroud!

Nor thought that gardener, (full of scorns
For men unlearned and simple phrase,)
A child would bring it all its praise
By creeping through the thorns!

To me upon my low moss seat,
Though never a dream the roses sent
Of science or love’s compliment,
I ween they smelt as sweet.

It did not move my grief to see
The trace of human step departed:
Because the garden was deserted,
The blither place for me!

Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken
Has childhood ‘twixt the sun and sward;
We draw the moral afterward,
We feel the gladness then.

And gladdest hours for me did glide
In silence at the rose-tree wall:
A thrush made gladness musical
Upon the other side.

Nor he nor I did e’er incline
To peck or pluck the blossoms white;
How should I know but roses might
Lead lives as glad as mine?

To make my hermit-home complete,
I brought dear water from the spring
Praised in its own low murmuring,
And cresses glossy wet.

And so, I thought, my likeness grew
(Without the melancholy tale)
To ‘Gentle Hermit of the Dale,’
And Angelina too.

For oft I read within my nook
Such minstrel stories; till the breeze
Made sounds poetic in the trees,
And then I shut the book.

If I shut this wherein I write
I hear no more the wind athwart
Those trees, nor feel that childish heart
Delighting in delight.

My childhood from my life is parted,
My footstep from the moss which drew
Its fairy circle round: anew
The garden is deserted.

Another thrush may there rehearse
The madrigals which sweetest are;
No more for me! myself afar
Do sing a sadder verse.

Ah me, ah me! when erst I lay
In that child’s-nest so greenly wrought,
I laughed unto myself and thought
‘The time will pass away.’

And still I laughed, and did not fear
But that, whene’er was past away
The childish time, some happier play
My womanhood would cheer.

I knew the time would pass away,
And yet, beside the rose-tree wall,
Dear God, how seldom, if at all,
Did I look up to pray!

The time is past; and now that grows
The cypress high among the trees,
And I behold white sepulchres
As well as the white rose, —

When graver, meeker thoughts are given,
And I have learnt to lift my face,
Reminded how earth’s greenest place
The color draws from heaven, —

It something saith for earthly pain,
But more for Heavenly promise free,
That I who was, would shrink to be
That happy child again.

 

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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My Garden

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If I could put my woods in song
And tell what’s there enjoyed,
All men would to my gardens throng,
And leave the cities void.

In my plot no tulips blow,–
Snow-loving pines and oaks instead;
And rank the savage maples grow
From Spring’s faint flush to Autumn red.

My garden is a forest ledge
Which older forests bound;
The banks slope down to the blue lake-edge,
Then plunge to depths profound.

Here once the Deluge ploughed,
Laid the terraces, one by one;
Ebbing later whence it flowed,
They bleach and dry in the sun.

The sowers made haste to depart,–
The wind and the birds which sowed it;
Not for fame, nor by rules of art,
Planted these, and tempests flowed it.

Waters that wash my garden-side
Play not in Nature’s lawful web,
They heed not moon or solar tide,–
Five years elapse from flood to ebb.

Hither hasted, in old time, Jove,
And every god,–none did refuse;
And be sure at last came Love,
And after Love, the Muse.

Keen ears can catch a syllable,
As if one spake to another,
In the hemlocks tall, untamable,
And what the whispering grasses smother.

Æolian harps in the pine
Ring with the song of the Fates;
Infant Bacchus in the vine,–
Far distant yet his chorus waits.

Canst thou copy in verse one chime
Of the wood-bell’s peal and cry,
Write in a book the morning’s prime,
Or match with words that tender sky?

Wonderful verse of the gods,
Of one import, of varied tone;
They chant the bliss of their abodes
To man imprisoned in his own.

Ever the words of the gods resound;
But the porches of man’s ear
Seldom in this low life’s round
Are unsealed, that he may hear.

Wandering voices in the air
And murmurs in the wold
Speak what I cannot declare,
Yet cannot all withhold.

When the shadow fell on the lake,
The whirlwind in ripples wrote
Air-bells of fortune that shine and break,
And omens above thought.

But the meanings cleave to the lake,
Cannot be carried in book or urn;
Go thy ways now, come later back,
On waves and hedges still they burn.

These the fates of men forecast,
Of better men than live to-day;
If who can read them comes at last
He will spell in the sculpture,’Stay.’

 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Blueberries

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‘You ought to have seen what I saw on my way To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day: Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum In the cavernous pail of the first one to come! And all ripe together, not some of them green And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen! ‘ ‘I don’t know what part of the pasture you mean.’ ‘You know where they cut off the woods—let me see— It was two years ago—or no! —can it be No longer than that? —and the following fall The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall.’ ‘Why, there hasn’t been time for the bushes to grow. That’s always the way with the blueberries, though: There may not have been the ghost of a sign Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine, But get the pine out of the way, you may burn The pasture all over until not a fern Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick, And presto, they’re up all around you as thick And hard to explain as a conjuror’s trick.’ ‘It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit. I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot. And after all really they’re ebony skinned: The blue’s but a mist from the breath of the wind, A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand, And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned.’ ‘Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think? ‘ ‘He may and not care and so leave the chewink To gather them for him—you know what he is. He won’t make the fact that they’re rightfully his An excuse for keeping us other folk out.’ ‘I wonder you didn’t see Loren about.’ ‘The best of it was that I did. Do you know, I was just getting through what the field had to show And over the wall and into the road, When who should come by, with a democrat-load Of all the young chattering Lorens alive, But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive.’ ‘He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown? ‘ ‘He just kept nodding his head up and down. You know how politely he always goes by. But he thought a big thought—I could tell by his eye— Which being expressed, might be this in effect: ‘I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect, To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.” ‘He’s a thriftier person than some I could name.’ ‘He seems to be thrifty; and hasn’t he need, With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed? He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say, Like birds. They store a great many away. They eat them the year round, and those they don’t eat They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet.’ ‘Who cares what they say? It’s a nice way to live, Just taking what Nature is willing to give, Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow.’ ‘I wish you had seen his perpetual bow— And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned, And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned.’ ‘I wish I knew half what the flock of them know Of where all the berries and other things grow, Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop. I met them one day and each had a flower Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower; Some strange kind—they told me it hadn’t a name.’ ‘I’ve told you how once not long after we came, I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth By going to him of all people on earth To ask if he knew any fruit to be had For the picking. The rascal, he said he’d be glad To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad. There had been some berries—but those were all gone. He didn’t say where they had been. He went on: ‘I’m sure—I’m sure’—as polite as could be. He spoke to his wife in the door, ‘Let me see, Mame, we don’t know any good berrying place? ‘ It was all he could do to keep a straight face. ‘If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him, He’ll find he’s mistaken. See here, for a whim, We’ll pick in the Mortensons’ pasture this year. We’ll go in the morning, that is, if it’s clear, And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet. It’s so long since I picked I almost forget How we used to pick berries: we took one look round, Then sank out of sight like trolls underground, And saw nothing more of each other, or heard, Unless when you said I was keeping a bird Away from its nest, and I said it was you. ‘Well, one of us is.’ For complaining it flew Around and around us. And then for a while We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile, And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out, For when you made answer, your voice was as low As talking—you stood up beside me, you know.’ ‘We sha’n’t have the place to ourselves to enjoy— Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy. They’ll be there to-morrow, or even to-night. They won’t be too friendly—they may be polite— To people they look on as having no right To pick where they’re picking. But we won’t complain. You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain, The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves, Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves.’

 

– Robert Frost

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Fireflies In The Garden

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Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

 

– Robert Frost

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