Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jane Austen and Poetry

As Austen put it so well in 'Persuasion', 'it was the misfortune of poetry,to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely: and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly, were the very feelings feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly.'

With this, I heartily concur. However, I am one of those who enjoy it completely, and therefore must taste it but sparingly. So I will not overdo the poetry.

Yet, I have a book of poetry, the Remembering Garden which I love and have loved for years and years. It was given to me by an English friend of mine, now long gone, who owned a house, invited my husband and I to be weekend guests and eventually encouraged us to buy a house nearby.

The Remembering Garden

"He brought me into a deep remembering garden,
And I was like one that wakes from
          a dream of pain
To hear the cry of a thrush in the woods
          at evening,
And the sound of a brook and the
         whisper of Eden again."

Alfred Noyes

Child of the suburbs, when growing up, our yard consisted of patchy grass, a scrawny dogwood, a row of bright azalea's, a forsythia, pachysandra, and an ailing elm tree. It was not very sunny and mostly a place where my brother and I dug to China or played tag.

When Tom got on the Guiding Light soap opera, and we bought a house upstate New York, where so many other artists, writers and actors had homes. Our house had a large, sunny yard just begging for a garden.

It was then, with my English friend's encouragement that I fell in love with gardens and flowers, which had never seriously entered my life before. I discovered the gardening catalogs, White Flower Farm in Connecticut, Wayside Gardens in South Carolina, which had such ravishing photos and descriptions, it's a wonder I didn't spend all our salary on plants. Also, local nurseries were an excellent source for tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, etc. What a garden I planned. As we all do, who dream of gardens.

----So In Winter

The gardener sees what he will never see.
Here, in his lamp-lit parable, he'll scan
Catalogues bright with colour and with hope,
Dearest delusions of creative mind,
His lamp-lit walls, his lamp-lit table painting
Fabulous flowers flung as he desires.
Fantastic, tossed and all from shilling packet
---An acre sprung from one expended coin--
Visions of what might be.

The Garden: V. Sackville-West

Plants ordered, bulbs planted late autumn, tiller rented in early spring, tiller drags gardener around garden, shoveling way too deep, fertilizer, mulch, fence; all ready for THE PLANTS. I still remember them. They were almost family members, they received so much loving care. Hollyhocks, Asters, delphinium, Bristol Fairy Baby's Breath, yellow coreopsis, Foxglove, sweet corn, Roma tomatoes, horseradish, tarragon, parsley, and more.

The deer feasted on the Asters and delphinium. I don't believe I saw more than one or two blooms that they produced. The corn blew over in a thunderstorm, but we stood it back up with rocks, and it survived to produce some good eating. The deer left the corn alone, because by late summer they had moved on. The horseradish may have grown just fine, but I lost the little marker and never did find the root. The tomatoes produced enough sauce to feed a small army all winter, and the parsley was equally prolific. The stately, old fashioned Hollyhocks were like a stage set for "Mornings at Seven", and the Bristol Fairy Baby's Breath wreathed my little garden in a vast cloud of lacy white. I must have filled to overflowing seven or more baskets with Baby's Breath to dry and use as decoration. I gave away tons. Baby's Breath really looks remarkably lovely dried and stuffed in a basket.

My Baby's breath basket back left on bureau

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