Herbs, Plants, Stones

ligozzi poppyJacopo Ligozzi (1547 – 1627)
Opium Poppy


O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give.
Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime by action dignified.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1613)
Friar Laurence, Romeo and Juliet
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Where You Stand

whitman leaves

 

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

 

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

 

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)

 

 

 

Published in: on April 11, 2014 at 12:06 am  Comments (2)  
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Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man

bloemart Abraham Bloemaert (1566 – 1651)

1
It is calm.
It is as though
we lived in a garden
that had not yet arrived
at the knowledge of
good and evil.
But there is a man in it.
2
There will be
rain falling vertically
from an indifferent
sky. There will stare out
from behind its
bars the face of the man
who is not enjoying it.
3
Nothing higher
than a blackberry
bush. As the sun comes up
fresh, what is the darkness
stretching from horizon
to horizon? It is the shadow
here of the forked man.
4
We have eaten
the blackberries and spat out
the seeds, but they lie
glittering like the eyes of a man.
5
After we have stopped
singing, the garden is disturbed
by echoes; it is
the man whistling, expecting
everything to come to him.
6
We wipe our beaks
on the branches
wasting the dawn’s
jewellery to get rid
of the taste of a man.
7
Neverthless,
which is not the case
with a man, our
bills give us no trouble.
8
Who said the
number was unlucky?
It was a man, who,
trying to pass us,
had his licence endorsed
thirteen times.
9
In the cool
of the day the garden
seems given over
to blackbirds. Yet
we know also that somewhere
there is a man in hiding.
10
To us there are
eggs and there are
blackbirds. But there is the man,
too, trying without feathers
to incubate a solution.
11
We spread our
wings, reticulating
our air-space. A man stands
under us and worries
at his ability to do the same.
12
When night comes
like a visitor
from outer space
we stop our ears
lest we should hear tell
of the man in the moon.
13
Summer is
at an end. The migrants
depart. When they return
in spring to the garden,
will there be a man among them?

R. S. Thomas (29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000)

Tree At My Window

Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree' John Constable,Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree,  John Constable (1776 – 1837)

 

Tree At My Window

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

Vague dream head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.

But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.

That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

 

Robert Frost   (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

 

Published in: on March 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm  Comments (5)  
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Spring and All (1923) [and 1533]

better ox eye jlmdm

         Rose

 The rose is obsolete
 but each petal ends in
 an edge, the double facet
 cementing the grooved
 columns of air--The edge
 cuts without cutting
 meets--nothing--renews
 itself in metal or porcelain--

 whither? It ends--

 But if it ends
 the start is begun
 so that to engage roses
 becomes a geometry--

 Sharper, neater, more cutting
 figured in majolica--
 the broken plate
 glazed with a rose

 Somewhere the sense
 makes copper roses
 steel roses--

 The rose carried weight of love
 but love is at an end--of roses

 It is at the edge of the
 petal that love waits

 Crisp, worked to defeat
 laboredness--fragile
 plucked, moist, half-raised
 cold, precise, touching

 What

 The place between the petal's
 edge and the

 From the petal's edge a line starts
 that being of steel
 infinitely fine, infinitely
 rigid penetrates
 the Milky Way
 without contact--lifting
 from it--neither hanging
 nor pushing--

 The fragility of the flower
 unbruised
 penetrates space

William Carlos Williams

This Compost — 1856

ligozzi plant

1

Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper’d corpses within you?
Is not every continent work’d over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv’d,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.

2

Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noislessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch’d eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the door-yards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Walt Whitman

https://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/what-is-the-grass-2/

Weaning the Calves

Rosa Bonheur (16 March 1822 – 25 May 1899)

Rosa Bonheur (16 March 1822 – 25 May 1899)

It is evident that those who are necessitated by their  profession to trifle with the sacredness of life, and think lightly of the  agonies of living beings, are unfit for benevolence and justice . . .

Their habits form an admirable apprenticeship to the more wasting wickedness of war, in which men are hired to mangle and murder their fellow beings by thousands, that tyrants and countries may profit.
The very sight of animals in the fields who are destined to the axe must  encourage obduracy if it fails to awaken compassion.

How unwarrantable is the injustice and barbarity which is exercised toward  these miserable victims.
They are called into existence by human artifice that  they may drag out a short and miserable existence of slavery and disease, that  their bodies may be mutilated, their social feelings outraged.
It were much  better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have  existed only to endure unmitigated misery.

(The attachment of animals to their  young is very strong. The monstrous sophism that beasts are pure unfeeling  machines, and do not reason, scarcely requires a confutation.)

Percy Bysshe Shelley  (1792 – 1822)

 

A radical in his poetry as well as his political and social views, Shelley did not live to see success and influence.
Most publishers and journals declined to publish his work for fear of being arrested themselves for blasphemy or sedition.

Henry David Thoreau’s civil disobedience and Mohandas Gandhi’s passive resistance were influenced and inspired by Shelley’s nonviolence in protest and political action.

Critics such as Matthew Arnold endeavoured to rewrite Shelley’s legacy to make him seem a lyricist and a dilettante who had no serious intellectual position and whose longer poems were not worth study. Matthew Arnold famously described Shelley as a “beautiful and ineffectual angel”.
This position contrasted strongly with the judgement of the previous generation who knew Shelley as a sceptic and radical.

Although Shelley’s works were banned from respectable Victorian households, his political writings were pirated by men such as Richard Carlile (an important agitator for the establishment of universal suffrage and freedom of the press in the United Kingdom) who regularly went to jail for printing “seditious and blasphemous libel” (i.e. material proscribed by the government), and these cheap pirate editions reached hundreds of activists and workers throughout the nineteenth century.

Wikipedia

Small-needing

stilled fish

. . . .

The fish is swift, small-needing, vague yet clear,
A cold, sweet, silver life, wrapped in round waves,
Quickened with touches of transporting fear.

. . . .

Leigh Hunt

No World

cranachlion

Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472 – 16 October 1553) pen & brown ink


In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris


His  vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot  hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars, and behind  the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the  movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a  center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the  curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly—.  An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is  gone.


Rainer Maria Rilke
(December 1875 – December 1926)
The Panther
tr. Stephen Mitchell

Ground Birds in Open Country

John Ruskin, Study of a peacock feather, 1863

John Ruskin, Study of a peacock feather, 1863

They fly up in front of you so suddenly,
tossed, like gravel, by the handful,
kicked like snow or dead leaves into life.
Or if it's spring they break back and forth
like schools of fish silver at the surface,
like the swifts I saw in the hundreds
over the red tile roofs of Assisi—
they made shadows, they changed sunlight,
and at evening, before vespers,
waved back to the blackbird nuns.
My life list is one bird at a time long,
what Roethke calls looking. The eye,
particular for color, remembers when 
a treeful would go gray with applause,
in the middle of nowhere, in a one-oak field.
I clapped my hands just for the company.
As one lonely morning, green under glass,
a redwing flew straight at me, its shoulders
slick with rain that hadn't fallen yet.
In the birdbook there, where the names are,
it's always May, and the thing so fixed
we can see it—Cerulean, Blackpoll, Pine.
The time one got into the schoolroom
we didn't know what it was, but it sang,
it sailed along the ceiling on all sides,
and blew back out, wild, still lost,
before any of us, stunned, could shout
it down. And in a hallway once,
a bird went mad, window by locked window,
the hollow echo length of a building.
I picked it up closed inside my hand.
I picked it up and tried to let it go.
They fly up so quickly in front of you,
without names, in the slurred shapes of wings.
Scatter as if shot from twelve-gauge guns.
Or they fly from room to room, from memory
past the future, having already gathered
                in great numbers on the ground.
 Stanley Plumly