Saturday, May 11, 2013

Poems about Gardens: Playlist for May 10, 2013

Talking Back to the Mad World

By Sarah C. Harwell  

I will not tend. Or water,

pull, or yank,

I will not till, uproot,

fill up or spray.

The rain comes.

Or not. Plants: sun-fed,

moon-hopped, dirt-stuck.


Watch as flocks

of wild phlox


appear, disappear. My lazy,

garbagey magic

makes this nothing



I love

the tattered

camisole of

nothing. The world

runs its underbrush

course fed by

the nothing I give it.


Wars are fought.

Blood turns.

Dirt is a wide unruly room.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky (Part 1, Introduction)


A Certain Kind of Eden

By Kay Ryan b. 1945

It seems like you could, but

you can’t go back and pull

the roots and runners and replant.

It’s all too deep for that.

You’ve overprized intention,

have mistaken any bent you’re given

for control. You thought you chose

the bean and chose the soil.

You even thought you abandoned

one or two gardens. But those things

keep growing where we put them—

if we put them at all.

A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.

Even the one vine that tendrils out alone

in time turns on its own impulse,

twisting back down its upward course

a strong and then a stronger rope,

the greenest saddest strongest

kind of hope.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Garden of Adonis by Alan Hovhaness

The Garden

By Andrew Marvell 1621–1678


How vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays,

And their uncessant labours see

Crown’d from some single herb or tree,

Whose short and narrow verged shade

Does prudently their toils upbraid;

While all flow’rs and all trees do close

To weave the garlands of repose. 


Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

And Innocence, thy sister dear!

Mistaken long, I sought you then

In busy companies of men;

Your sacred plants, if here below,

Only among the plants will grow.

Society is all but rude,

To this delicious solitude. 


No white nor red was ever seen

So am’rous as this lovely green.

Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,

Cut in these trees their mistress’ name;

Little, alas, they know or heed

How far these beauties hers exceed!

Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,

No name shall but your own be found. 


When we have run our passion’s heat,

Love hither makes his best retreat.

The gods, that mortal beauty chase,

Still in a tree did end their race:

Apollo hunted Daphne so,

Only that she might laurel grow;

And Pan did after Syrinx speed,

Not as a nymph, but for a reed. 


What wond’rous life in this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons as I pass,

Ensnar’d with flow’rs, I fall on grass. 


Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness;

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find,

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade. 


Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,

Or at some fruit tree’s mossy root,

Casting the body’s vest aside,

My soul into the boughs does glide;

There like a bird it sits and sings,

Then whets, and combs its silver wings;

And, till prepar’d for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light. 


Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walk’d without a mate;

After a place so pure and sweet,

   What other help could yet be meet!

But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share

To wander solitary there:

Two paradises ’twere in one

To live in paradise alone. 


How well the skillful gard’ner drew

Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,

Where from above the milder sun

Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

And as it works, th’ industrious bee

Computes its time as well as we.

How could such sweet and wholesome hours

Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: A garden so green (Anonymous)


The Farmer

By W.D. Ehrhart b. 1948

Each day I go into the fields

to see what is growing

and what remains to be done.

It is always the same thing: nothing

is growing, everything needs to be done.

Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray

till my bones ache and hands rub

blood-raw with honest labor—

all that grows is the slow

intransigent intensity of need.

I have sown my seed on soil

guaranteed by poverty to fail.

But I don’t complain—except

to passersby who ask me why

I work such barren earth.

They would not understand me

if I stooped to lift a rock

and hold it like a child, or laughed,

or told them it is their poverty

I labor to relieve. For them,

I complain. A farmer of dreams

knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams

knows what it means to be patient.

Each day I go into the fields.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Serenade for Strings in E minor by Edward Elgar




By John Montague b. 1929


We had two gardens.  


A real flower garden

overhanging the road

(our miniature Babylon).

Paths which I helped

to lay with Aunt Winifred,

riprapped with pebbles;

shards of painted delph;

an old potato boiler;

a blackened metal pot,

now bright with petals.  


Hedges of laurel, palm.

A hovering scent of boxwood.

Crouched in the flowering

lilac, I could oversee

the main road, old Lynch

march to the wellspring

with his bucket, whistling,

his carrotty sons herding

in and out their milch cows:

a growing whine of cars.  


Then, the vegetable garden

behind, rows of broad beans

plumping their cushions,

the furled freshness of

tight little lettuce heads,

slim green pea pods above

early flowering potatoes,

gross clumps of carrots,

parsnips, a frailty of parsley,

a cool fragrance of mint.  


Sealed off by sweetpea

clambering up its wired fence,

the tarred goats' shack

which stank in summer,

in its fallow, stone-heaped corner.  


With, on the grassy margin,

a well-wired chicken run,

cheeping balls of fluff

brought one by one into the sun

from their metallic mother

—the oil-fed incubator—

always in danger from

the marauding cat, or

the stealthy, hungry vixen:

I, their small guardian.  


Two gardens, the front

for beauty, the back

for use. Sleepless now,

I wander through both

and it is summer again,

the long summers of youth

as I trace small paths

in a trance of growth:

flowers pluck at my coat

as I bend down to help,

or speak to my aunt,

whose calloused hands

caressing the plants

are tender as a girl's.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Fairy Garden, by Maurice Ravel (from "Mother Goose Suite")

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