Poetry springs pretty and witty from gardening.
The first of anything brings a thrill of fresh beginnings. No mistaking what has begun as the calendar flips over, the air is balmy, birdsong ramping up and the night noises rising to the insect summer symphony.
Poetic enough for you? Yeah, that’s what Spring does to many of us; turns our thoughts to nature and sends us into metaphor mania, wrestling to describe the lush and vibrant feelings coursing through us as the warm air rises and fresh life juices swell in every bough.
See? It bids you cast off the ugg boots and jumpers, fling open the windows and inhale the scents and sounds of new life in the garden. Having a birthday on the first of the month and indeed the first day of a season, I am particularly sensitive to the term breaks of Father Time and Mother Nature and the urge to proclaim and wax lyrical as a new cycle turns – all heavily seasoned with garden references.
It just takes just the tiniest break in the soil surface and tip of new green growth to send poets reaching for superlatives. The powerful imagery of resurrection from the drab and cold of winter stirs in the breast of the literate and the aspiring literati and pushes them to witty and pretty words on the subject.
Take the philosopher, scribe and oracle, Cicero, who died in 43 BC, who said: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Couldn’t agree more.
Robert Louis Stevenson grew up in a grey Edinburgh terrace but he used garden analogy to wisely advise taking the long view: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Thomas More declared somewhat verbosely but drove a garden stake to the heart with: “The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.”
Some scribes are brought to their knees by the majesty of nature, like the one who wrote:
“I find gardening a very humbling experience, thus the reason for always being on my knees,’’ whereas one with a coarser turn of phrase penned: “My neighbours don’t recognise me by my face, but they know my bum well.”
And the glorious soaring reflection: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest if the world,” the words of John Muir
Much has been made of the meditative power of gardening, like author Alice Sebold found when she said: “I like gardening; it’s a place I find myself when I need to lose myself.’’
But the witty, scorching pun of New York columnist Dorothy Parker ranks among the cleverest:
“You can lead a horticulture but cannot make her think.’’
I like the simple reminder found in this:
“ Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.’’
“At the end of the day in Spring you should smell like dirt.”
Pass the soap.