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.