Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garden Notes: Sudden Growth, Flowerly Anticipation and an Old Poem

I was amazed to see how much the garden has spurted in the couple of days since I went by to water it last. The Isis Candy Tomato, the Brandywine and the Cayenne Pepper plants all have flowers (yeah! But you can't really see one in this picture). 

I wish my plot in the community garden was in my backyard and that I didn't have to drive to it. I'd like to just hang out there, read a book and observe the wildlife all around. When I got there, there was a huge flock of birds (sparrows, likely) in the lower portion of the garden that swooped up into the air as I opened the gate. It's like they know they're not supposed to be there, eating all the seeds/seedlings. Anyway, there were so many of them it was a downright Hitchcock moment. 
Still, it would be nice to just sit there and forget about things -- pretend that this is the way the world really is, full of green growing things, the promise of abundance and life.

Here is a poem by Andrew Marvell. 

The Garden

How vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays;

And their uncessant labors see

Crowned from some single herb or tree,

Whose short and narrow-verg├Ęd shade

Does prudently their toils upbraid;

While all the flowers and 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 amorous 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! wheresoe'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 who 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 wondrous life is 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,

Insnared with flowers, 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 prepared for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light.


Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walked 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 flowers 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 reckoned but with herbs and flowers!


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