Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Carman

All photography courtesy of our private collection.

As you read the poem I have selected and see the photographs I have shared, click on each one to enlarge it and take a walk with me through the gardens. The sunlight drapes the tulips in a glittering light which renders the petals almost translucent. See the Royal Star Magnolia's bloom of pure white splendor. There is a tiny spider climbing one of the pink tulip buds...can you see it? The weeping cherry tree is losing its blooms so that it can dress itself in green while the pink and purple tulips dance around it. I see the beginning of a bouquet my husband has planted for me when my eyes find the yellow tulip buds not yet open. The gifts of this garden await my eyes each morning, tulips singing to me through my kitchen window and shining gloriously, speaking to me of love and nature's precious mysteries.

Beauty is always there just waiting to be found.



I heard the spring wind whisper
Above the brushwood fire,
"The world is made forever
Of transport and desire.

"I am the breath of being,
The primal urge of things;
I am the whirl of star dust,
I am the lift of wings.

"I am the splendid impulse
That comes before the thought,
The joy and exaltation
Wherein the life is caught.

"Across the sleeping furrows
I call the buried seed,
And blade and bud and blossom
Awaken at my need.

"Within the dying ashes
I blow the sacred spark,
And make the hearts of lovers
To leap against the dark."


I heard the spring light whisper
Above the dancing stream,
"The world is made forever
In likeness of a dream.

"I am the law of planets,
I am the guide of man;
The evening and the morning
Are fashioned to my plan.

"I tint the dawn with crimson,
I tinge the sea with blue;
My track is in the desert,
My trail is in the dew.

"I paint the hills with color,
And in my magic dome
I light the star of evening
To steer the traveller home.

"Within the house of being,
I feed the lamp of truth
With tales of ancient wisdom
And prophecies of youth."


I heard the spring rain murmur
Above the roadside flower,
"The world is made forever
In melody and power.

"I keep the rhythmic measure
That marks the steps of time,
And all my toil is fashioned
To symmetry and rhyme.

"I plow the untilled upland,
I ripe the seeding grass,
And fill the leafy forest
With music as I pass.

"I hew the raw, rough granite
To loveliness of line,
And when my work is finished,
Behold, it is divine!

"I am the master-builder
In whom the ages trust.
I lift the lost perfection
To blossom from the dust."


Then Earth to them made answer,
As with a slow refrain
Born of the blended voices
Of wind and sun and rain,
"This is the law of being
That links the threefold chain:
The life we give to beauty
Returns to us again."

~William Bliss Carman~

"Earth Voices" is reprinted from April Airs: A Book of New England Lyrics. Bliss Carman. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company, 1916.

Bliss Carman was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1861 with a maternal ancestry traced back to Ralph Waldo Emerson. He received undergraduate, and graduate degrees in New Brunswick, Canada, leaving to attend Oxford and Edinburgh but did not complete post graduate work there. He returned to New Bruanswick where he taught French and practiced law prior to leaving for Harvard. He did not complete post graduate work at Harvard but moved instead to NYC where he worked as an editor with several periodicals. He published books of essays and volumes of poetry, did notable editorial work on poetry anthologies, and was a successful speaker. He met Mary Perry King and her husband in 1896 and did collaborative work with Mrs. King, writing books on personality development, and work on masques, and intepretive dance. He relocated near this couple in Connecticut and worked with Mrs. King in a summer school program for many years. Carman was treated during the last decade of his life for tuberculosis and died in 1929 in Connecticut. Bliss Carman, the unofficial poet laureate of Canada, was buried in New Brunshwick, Canada.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Savor the Moments

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
~Robert Frost~

All photography courtesy of our private collection.

The earth awakes and so do I. Spring’s cycle of rebirth stirs me into life again, just like the daffodils and the fragrant hyacinths scenting the air as they sway outside our door. I am drawn to the courtyard each morning like clockwork. Dawn breaks, and light slips quietly across the sky while I tip-toe down the rocky steps, made of natural boulders, and head into the garden’s secret room where bleeding hearts hang down in pink and white droplets next to ferns.

 I move past primroses of every color and an early blooming mauve rhododendron which stands tall and stately between pink lenton roses blooming since February. My eyes move quickly. I check for new green tips, hints of life. The rock garden, only a year old but so full of life, bears witness to the lively movement beneath the rich, brown mulch. Every clump of earth displaced by growth pushing up catches my eye. Old stalks of last year’s treasures remain as markers for our keen observation of new life.

I walk past a mound of heather, full and fuzzy in its purple haze.I see the day lilies and their newly formed leaves, lavender stalks which will soon flower, small azalea buds next to open blossoms. Further down I notice sedum which is now high above the ground, happily transforming into the full succulent plant whose blooms will turn from chartreuse to mauve to cinnamon through the coming months. Stems of Asian lilies are rising now on each side of the Japanese Maple. Campanula is green and full and waiting only for warmer sun to burst into purple blossom. The Cape Fuschias surprised me with their evergreen foliage in winter. The greenery in the cold, wet months was a welcome sight. Soon they will be heavy with butter blooming tubes like honeysuckle. Just below them are the orange Hardy Fuschias which will glow like the tips of burning cigars in the summer light. Both will feed the hummingbirds all season. Beneath the outer limits of the apple tree’s limbs the Euonymous shrubs sit with leaves mottled in green and yellow, veined like marble. They move along the lower garden path and bring yellow light to the perennial garden when the daffodils finish their song.

Large boulders dot this landscape, anointing it with status as I move down the path past the rhododendron heavy with buds, beyond the azaleas about to burst into bloom. Along the trail of bearded iris, their foliage tall and green and pointed, I reach the sword ferns and hydrangeas leafing out now, soon to be huge balls of pink, white, lavender, and blue.

My heart is beating faster as I walk. It is thrilling to see the rebirth of this land we own, this land which my husband loves even more than I do. I see his long arms in each shrub, on every tree trunk that stands proudly, now clean and open to the light from its late winter pruning.
I see his sweat in the green flora peeping forth, remember his placing every plant in these gardens last summer. Back to our courtyard, I gaze out over the landscape and remember him creating these gardens from earth and rock, removing tree trunks long dead, digging out a concrete wall buried long ago under soil, unearthing and removing dead roots, pulling weeds, chopping, shaping. These gardens are the diligent work of my husband, his labor a gift to me. I see his love of this land, his pride in the home we have made where we share our lives. It is like a portrait he is painting, done with love and exactness, with design and purpose.

I am awakened by the birth of spring in these gardens and by the love of this man whose hands untangle the plants’ tightened roots to give them life. These are the same hands which hold mine close and safe and nurture me with tenderness. It is time for me to climb back into the warmth of our bed and savor the moments left for sleep.

Too soon the sun will rise higher in the sky and call him to leave our bed to begin this day.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Hafiz of Shiraz

Photography Credit: "In the Treetops"
from our personal collection

         All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of

~ Hafiz~

From: The Subject Tonight is Love
translated by Daniel Ladinsky

The dates of his life are not exact, but it is believed Hafiz of Shiraz, beloved Persian poet, was born in 1320s AD in South Central Iran and lived until about the age of 69. Like Rumi he was one of the great Sufi poets belonging to a spiritual movement seeking truth and wisdom. The Sufi Movement focused on unity, balance, harmony, love, and beauty, with universal arms which were respectful of all religious teachings and beliefs. He used the ghazal, a strict poetic form of expression like the English sonnet, to create his poetry, but it is believed he may not have actually written any of his poems with pen in hand. He likely sang them or recited them aloud. He was the greatest of all lyrical poets but was not as well known in the western world. Hafiz may have composed as many as 693 poems during his life. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Haifz is a poet for poets." His poetry was referred to as the Songs of Hafiz.

Hafiz image: Artwork from cover of
I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz,
by Daniel Ladinsky