Preserved at Various Depths

sowerby shell

Copper plate engravings in black printing ink, hand colored with watercolor, with iron gall ink and graphite inscriptions, from
“Mineral conchology of Great Britain, or, Coloured figures and descriptions of those remains of testaceous animals, or shells which have been preserved at various times, and depths in the earth” by James Sowerby (1757 – 1822)

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Study of a Dead Grey Partridge

barbari partridgeJacopo de’ Barbari (c. 1460/70 – before 1516)

 

Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity
George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)

 

The Pilot Boat

Richard Dadd
“What’s the use of attempting the enlightenment? What a number of times the destroying angel has triumphed over the different nations of the earth – sucking them up & knocking them down”

Richard Dadd  (1 August 1817 – 7 January 1886)

Published in: on October 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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On the Nature of Things

hoefnagel sloth

 Now come, and next hereafter apprehend
What sorts, how vastly different in form,
How varied in multitudinous shapes they are-
These old beginnings of the universe;
Not in the sense that only few are furnished
With one like form, but rather not at all
In general have they likeness each with each,
No marvel: since the stock of them’s so great
That there’s no end (as I have taught) nor sum,
They must indeed not one and all be marked
By equal outline and by shape the same.
Moreover, humankind, and the mute flocks
Of scaly creatures swimming in the streams,
And joyous herds around, and all the wild,
And all the breeds of birds- both those that teem
In gladsome regions of the water-haunts,
About the river-banks and springs and pools,
And those that throng, flitting from tree to tree,
Through trackless woods- Go, take which one thou  wilt,
In any kind: thou wilt discover still
Each from the other still unlike in shape.

De rerum natura
c. 50 B.C.E
Lucretius

Translated by William Ellery Leonard

Beneath a canopied structure, a wiry-haired animal, perhaps a sloth, munches on a twig. A Latin text based on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount appears above. Although the text and image seem to fit perfectly together, the different elements on the page were made thirty years apart.The elegant Roman-style lettering was written by Georg Bocskay to display his mastery of calligraphy. The text originally appeared on a plain black background. The illustration was added later by Joris Hoefnagel, who saw in the diminishing script the suggestion of recession into space, an illusion defied by the two-dimensionality of the text. He thus enclosed the letters within an architectural canopy drawn in perspective. Hoefnagel also responded wittily to the black coloration of the page, interpreting it naturalistically as nighttime: the silvery tones of the animal’s fur and the gold shimmer in the darkness.

Joris Hoefnagel illuminator, Georg Bocskay, scribe
Flemish and Hungarian illumination 1591-1596, script 1561-1562
Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment

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/

Flags, Weeds

watercolor, Jan van Huijsum (1682 – 1749)

watercolor, Jan van Huijsum (1682 – 1749)

Repose of Rivers

The willows carried a slow sound,
A sarabande the wind mowed on the mead.
I could never remember
That seething, steady leveling of the marshes
Till age had brought me to the sea.

Flags, weeds. And remembrance of steep alcoves
Where cypresses shared the noon’s
Tyranny; they drew me into hades almost.
And mammoth turtles climbing sulphur dreams
Yielded, while sun-silt rippled them
Asunder …

How much I would have bartered! the black gorge
And all the singular nestings in the hills
Where beavers learn stitch and tooth.
The pond I entered once and quickly fled—
I remember now its singing willow rim.

And finally, in that memory all things nurse;
After the city that I finally passed
With scalding unguents spread and smoking darts
The monsoon cut across the delta
At gulf gates … There, beyond the dykes

I heard wind flaking sapphire, like this summer,
And willows could not hold more steady sound.

 


Hart Crane

 

Published in: on June 30, 2012 at 5:21 am  Comments (2)  
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Chinese Red Pine

Artist unknown, Watercolour, 1812 - 1824

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 4:45 am  Comments (3)  
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Italian Porcupine

Ulisse Aldrovandi (11 September 1522 – 4 May 1605)

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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charles rennie mackintosh aconite

Charles Rennie Mackintosh  1868 – 1928

Hedgehog

 
 
The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself,
Sharing its secret
 
With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you.
 
We mean no harm. We want
Only to listen to what
You have to say. We want
Your answers to our questions.
 
The hedgehog gives nothing
Away, keeping itself to itself.
We wonder what a hedgehog
Has to hide, why it so distrusts.
 
We forget the god
under this crown of thorns.
We forget that never again
will a god trust in the world.
 
Paul Muldoon