Garden Bloggers’ Muse Day, May 1, 2010

Supposed to be R. 'Cl. Pinkie', but it sure looks like 'Cl. Cecil Brunner'. It's taken three years to bloom well. In any event, it is very beautiful.

The Best Thing in the World

What’s the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you’re loved again.
What’s the best thing in the world?
–Something out of it, I think.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This beautiful poem is part of the mystery in the latest Maisie Dobbs book, The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs, Book 7). I’ve read all of this series which is set during and after WWI in England. I thought the poem was so fitting for this month’s muse, and I thank Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for the opportunity to share it.

Easter Eve by Anne Spencer

Helleborus x intermedia 'Blue Lady', her buds still held tightly closed against the cold.

Recently, I watched Garden Story, an older show from PBS.  One segment was about Anne Spencer, an African-American poet who was part of the Harlem Renaissance although she lived and gardened in Lynchburg, VA.  Her story was very poignant, and she loved gardening.  Her husband built a garden for her behind their house, and in it he placed a small building where she could write enclosed by her flowers.  It reminded me so much of Debra Prinzing’s book, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways: Big Ideas for Small Backyard Destinations and the movie, A Room with a View.  That need for a quiet place to ponder the next word or action is something for which we all yearn.

I’m not a poet, but her poetry, with its images of the garden, touched me.  I especially loved this piece written for her dear friend and mentor, James Weldon Johnson, who was tragically killed in a car/train accident.

For Jim, Easter Eve

by Anne Spencer

If ever a garden was Gethsemane,
with old tombs set high against
the crumpled olive tree–and lichen,
this, my garden, has been to me.
For such as I none other is so sweet:
Lacking old tombs, here stands my grief,
and certainly its ancient tree.
Peace is here and in every season
a quiet beauty.
The sky falling about me
evenly to the compass . . .
What is sorrow but tenderness now
in this earth-close frame of land and sky
falling constantly into horizons
of east and west, north and south;
what is pain but happiness here
amid these green and wordless patterns,–
indefinite texture of blade and leaf:
Beauty of an old, old tree,
last comfort in Gethsemane.

Although it isn’t Garden Bloggers’ Muse Day, which I missed, this is my contribution.  Yes, I thought about saving it for March, but this is Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada, so . . . .  Instead, I think it’s appropriate for Lent where we yearn for Easter and spring, but we and the plants still need this quiet time to grow.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I.