For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A Green Thought In A Green Shade


Today I worked in the garden. I cleared some weeds; I planted some flowers. Then I rested a while and let my mind wander. A robin perched nearby and sang. Two baby blue tits, not yet very blue, alighted on one of the lilacs, their mother close behind. They were wet and bedraggled. They shook themselves like puppies after a bath. I think their mother must have been teaching them the necessary skill of bathing - so that their feathers kept in good condition.

What wondrous life in this [garden] I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings,
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

These are the three pivotal verses from Andrew Marvell's great metaphysical poem The Garden.

A Garden (hortus conclusus) is enclosed and contained; but the Mind, or the Garden of the Mind (hortus mentis), is boundless (...it creates.../Far other worlds, and other seas;/Annihilating all that's made/To a green thought in a green shade). The soul, like an angel or a dove, or perhaps like a robin, sits and sings, glides into the boughs and whets and combs its silver wings, perhaps like a blue tit.

No apple harvest, melon bounty or crushed grape juice today. Wrong time of year. But at all times of year there's the possibility of a pregnant green thought, the imaginative potential for soaring flight.

The photo is of a marsh marigold in my garden. Like a lotus flower, it's rooted in muck at the bottom of the pond. And, also like a lotus flower, it awakens into glory.

1 comment:

am said...

...The mind, that ocean...

Exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you!