I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

2 July 2016

In the Land of Flowers

Late, late have I loved Thee, O Beauty most old and yet most new.... Thou didst call and very loud and didst break through my deafness. Thou didst shine and my darkness was scattered. Thou didst touch me and I burned for thy peace.*


In the land of flowers
and buzzing bees,
of berries and ferns
and a lawn like a meadow,
between the black wattle
that spread its thick branches
over the roof of the garage,
and the willow that grew
behind the lattice summerhouse,
I played with my friends.

Most were children like me
only their clothes were different.
(Clothes of bygone eras,
I learned as I grew, 
finding pictures in costume books, 
fancy-dress or historical.)
Everyone else told me
there were no other children,
except for when cousins 
or neighbours came –
I was alone in my garden.

Some of my friends were insects –
spotted ladybirds, gold-striped bees,
tawny butterflies, and fluttery
white cabbage moths which I wasn't
allowed to like because they were pests
(but I did) and beetles with jointed legs.

There were others – bright, quick lights
that flew, and inhabited plants.
They looked like insects, mostly,
to most people, and not like
the pretty, winged fairies in picture-books.
(But sometimes I saw their faces,
so I knew. And there was that day
when one stared back at me
and spoke, mind to mind,
just for a few moments, before –
as they always did – she vanished.)

One of my friends
was a bit like my Grandpa,
but younger and taller.
He and Grandpa both
walked and talked with me
among the ferns and flowers.
They both answered my questions;
both showed me, minutely,
the beauty of insects and grass,
trees and birds and clouds –
but not at the same time.
This wise friend was another
only I could hear and see.

(He never showed me
the mask with the ibis beak.
I found out his name later,
when a seer friend told me
who he saw around me, describing
other details I recognised:
'Oh, him. I know him! He's always 
been here. My old pal.' 
Never, therefore, awed.)

It's a hard thing for a child,
not being believed. 'Tell the truth!'
they say – and you are, but even 
your parents, who promise they love you, 
are sure it must be a story, something 
you made up. They think it's clever. 'What 
a wonderful imagination!' But later
they start to worry. 'She lives too much
in her dreams and fancies. It can't
be healthy.' So I learned 
the habit of keeping secret 
certain things that were real.

I knew even then, without
the words and concepts I have now,
that trees have souls and consciousness,
that every blade of grass 
sparks with Divine fire,
that the earth is alive, that God
is the great Mother – I 
her priestess if she will –
and knew her face, 
evanescent, glimpsed in dream,
flickering in the variety 
of her faceted world,
as exquisite, eternal beauty.


* Words of St Augustine, translated by Helen Waddell and quoted exactly as above in her book on Peter Abelard. (Part of a longer piece of writing, the rest of which she doesn't quote.)


I'm linking this to The Tuesday Platform for July 26 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads',


13 comments:

  1. What a wonderful write! There is a treasured book I would like to recommend to you, "The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, The Rediscovered Diary of Opal Whiteley." Your write made me think of it. I loved it! And think you will, too. It has been wonderful to get to know you just a little bit better! xoxoxoxoxohugs

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    1. *Big smile*. Dear annell, I have loved that book very, very much for many years. It's a true treasure.

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  2. "I learned the habit of keeping secret certain things that were real." Yes. This is one of my favourites of yours, Rosemary. I especially love the magical closing stanza, which just SOARS..........and the face revealed in the insect that looked at you and told you something mind to mind.........you were a magical child.........yes, you will love the book Annell mentions....written by just such a magical child. WONDERFUL writing. I love your poems about your childhood which sounds like a fairyland to me.

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    1. Ah, you must have just missed my reply to Annell. I've treasured that book for many years. :-)

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  3. The other world is real; i'm happy you are comfortable in your gifts

    much love...

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  4. There are myriads of wonders 'in the land of flowers' But yet one may not divulge what one sees One should be keeping them all a secret less one's intentions are misconstrued. Fantasizing on such wonders can be exhilarating!

    Hank

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  5. Wow Rosemary! This is wonderful, I love it!

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  6. As a long-time fan of the parenthetical, anything with an entire stanza of same is right up my alley.

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad! I sometimes wonder if it is a terrible failing.

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  7. A lovely poem, Rosemary, with lovely re branches. I wonder if you conjured them up or they were really like you. Perhaps like me, some true and some not. I grew up on a farm with only my sister and nature's friends to play with also. Occasionally some of us cousins did get together. I loved my grandma and I was Grandpa's favorite.
    My sister had an imaginary friend, Two Year Old Kid. He kept that name when she became three. He also became three though.
    ..

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    Replies
    1. All true. I was an only child until I was four, and the oldest of the visiting cousins I later acquired. My so-called imaginary friends also grew along with me – and yet, looking back, I feel they may have died in different eras. (I don't pretend to understand the after-life.)

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  8. That enchantment is too often lost or tossed or spoiled by growing up instead of growing down. You've kept faithful to that bower, and it has become such a rich simmer in the heart's cauldron. It's impressive and powerful--just what us old folks need.

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