We gathered on September 10 with poems related to gardening.

Abigail began the evening by reading Michael Field’s “Cyclamens” which ends, “Yet I, who have all these things in ken, Am struck to the heart by the chiselled white/Of this handful of cyclamen.”

Roger read Rudyard Kipling’s “The Glory of the Garden.” While “Cyclamens” is a personal and private poem, Kipling’s poem celebrates the country of England and extols all to work for the common good, “Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made/By singing: – ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.”

Hazel read “The Wild Honeysuckle” by Philip Freneau, a sweet but sad poem that celebrates the short life of the honeysuckle and of all of us, “The space between is but an hour,/The frail duration of a flower.”

Noel read Paisley Rekdal’s “Happiness” which defends the gardener against offended and angry neighbors, “I want to take my neighbors into the garden/and show them: Here is consolation.”

Jaye read from Charles Tomlinson’s “The Garden,” a poem filled with ideas discovered while touring a stately garden in England, “One must smile/At the irritability of critics, who/Impotent to produce, secrete over what they see/their dislike or semi-assent.”

Ellen read “Roses” by Billy Collins, with its lovely depiction of midsummer roses and their response to “this stranger staring over the wall/his hair disheveled, a scarf loose around his neck, writing in a notebook, writing about us no doubt.”

Betsy read Amy Uyematsu’s “Deliberate” about a group of young people seeking to be cool who come home and take off their “sassy black high heels/or two inch zippered boots/stack them by the door at night/next to Daddy’s muddy gardening shoes.” A lovely contrast occurs between the impractical shoes of the young and the traditional shoes of the father, whose energy has gone into his own plot, whether he’s cultivating flowers, vegetables, or children.

Karen read W. S. Merwin’s “What is a garden” which describes, without punctuation, the palm trees the poet planted in a Nature Conservancy in Maui, “The wet bamboo clacking in the night rain/crying in the darkness whimpering softly as the hollow columns touch/and slide along each other swaying with the empty air/these are sounds from before there were voices.”

AnnaLee brought the circle to a close by reading “Remaking a Neglected Orchard” by Nathaniel Perry which begins, It was a good idea, cutting away/the vines and ivy, trimming back/the chest-high thicket lazy years/had let grow here.”

We loved the range of the poems read and discussed! They took a diverse look at gardens and gardening, exploring the relationship between man and plants as simple delight, symbolically, and even giving a voice to the plants and allowing them to talk to us.

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