Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

A little poem by Robert Herrick

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Poems of Herrick book

It’s the end of another year. I’ve been too busy to post here lately, not even to mark the arrival of winter. (If you want to see what I’ve been up to lately you can read my personal blog.) For my final post of 2011 at The Untended Garden, I’ve dug up a short poem by Robert Herrick (1591-1674).

It comes from a tiny book that I purchased for 50¢ at my library book sale. It was printed in Edinburgh with a green cloth cover and no date, and the image above is only slightly smaller than the actual book. It’s one of those mysterious little books that makes you wonder how many people have owned it and what an incredible journey it must have had. It’s amazing to think that a few dozen words inspired by a walk in the garden can still be appreciated four hundred years later.

* * *

THE OLIVE BRANCH

Sadly I walked within the field,
To see what comfort it would yield;
And as I went my private way,
An Olive-branch before me lay;
And seeing it, I made a stay,
And took it up, and viewed it; then
Kissing the omen, said “Amen:
Be, be it so, and let this be
A divination unto me;
That in short time my woes shall cease,
And Love shall crown my end with peace.”

— Robert Herrick

* * *

I hope everyone has a great new year, and I look forward to further exploring art and nature in 2012. If you have a favorite artist or writer who uses nature in their work, feel free to share!

I dreaded that first Robin

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Emily Dickinson

Today I’d like to share a poem by Emily Dickinson, one of her many works inspired by nature. Despite the pleasant imagery of birds and daffodils, it’s really a melancholy poem, describing how even the most beautiful things can be painful when you’re feeling sad. And the more beloved they are (the poet clearly loves the garden in springtime) the more piercing it is to look upon them.

Like all great poems, this one has been interpreted many different ways by different people. What do you think it means?

* * *

I dreaded that first Robin, so,
But He is mastered, now,
I’m some accustomed to Him grown,
He hurts a little, though —

I thought if I could only live
Till that first Shout got by —
Not all Pianos in the Woods
Had power to mangle me —

I dared not meet the Daffodils —
For fear their Yellow Gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own —

I wished the Grass would hurry —
So — when ’twas time to see —
He’d be too tall, the tallest one
Could stretch — to look at me —

I could not bear the Bees should come,
I wished they’d stay away
In those dim countries where they go,
What word had they, for me?

They’re here, though; not a creature failed —
No Blossom stayed away
In gentle deference to me —
The Queen of Calvary —

Each one salutes me, as he goes,
And I, my childish Plumes,
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment
Of their unthinking Drums —

* * *

The Winter’s Wind – a poem by Keats

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

As the new year begins, I present for you a poem by John Keats, inspired by a cold winter’s wind but encompassing so much more.

The image I’ve chosen to accompany the poem is a famous one by Casper David Friedrich called “The Wanderer Above the Mists”, painted around 1817. Obviously the artist is captivated by the misty mountains, but then why place a person in the very center of the image, blocking our view? And we can’t see his face, we can only wonder at who he is and what he is thinking. It’s this kind of mystery, along with the expert composition and technique, that make the painting great. There’s a bigger idea at work here, a puzzle that the viewer must unravel.

The poem is also open to interpretation, but I won’t even try to analyze it. I’ll let the poet speak for himself.

* * *

O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
And the black elm tops ‘mong the freezing stars!
To thee the spring will be a harvest time.
O thou whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness, which thou feddest on
Night after night, when Phœbus was away!
To thee the spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge. I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge! I have none.
And yet the evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

– John Keats (1795-1821)

* * *

The last rose of summer

Friday, September 24th, 2010

September is flying past, and autumn begins this week. I took this photo of a rose in my yard yesterday, as it made one final salute to summer. Today, its petals are lying on the ground. It reminds me of the famous poem by Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852.)

‘Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

* * *

Before we leave summer entirely, here are some photos I took of my garden over the past few months, showing its progress. It’s not a very big garden, and it grew a bit more wild than I anticipated, but it’s always inspiring to see plants grow and blossom in front of your eyes. It’s also fascinating to see all the insects who come to the garden and make it their home.

Luckily, this little fellow stayed outside the fence, and ate the weeds in the yard. Meanwhile, the garden will keep blooming until the first frost, when it will be time to dig it up until next year.

This also marks another milestone, it has been one year since I started this blog. It’s been fun exploring artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers who use nature in their work, and I’m looking forward to more interesting discoveries next year. So stick around!

* * *

The Nature of Emily Dickinson

Friday, January 8th, 2010

dickinson1bTo kick off this wintry new year, here is a poem by Emily Dickinson, who was no stranger to the outdoors. Throughout her roughly 1,700 poems, she described nature in her own singular way, as someone who has quietly observed it all her life. This particular poem is written as a riddle, never explicitly stating the subject, though I think you’ll guess.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain —
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem —
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen —
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

.