Friday, April 20, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Time and the Garden"

At the local used book superstore I came across Garden Poems, edited by John Hollander, part of the "Everyman's Library Pocket Poets" series. I snagged it for $2.99! What a deal! But even at list, $13.50, it's still a bargain. I'll be mining it for many Poetry Friday entries in the future, I'm sure.

For today, here's a poem by Yvor Winters:
Time and the Garden

The spring has darkened with activity.
The future gathers in vine, bush, and tree:
Persimmon, walnut, loquat, fig, and grape,
Degrees and kinds of color, taste, and shape.
These will advance in their due series, space
The season like a tranquil dwelling-place.
And yet excitement swells me, vein by vein:
I long to crowd the little garden, gain
Its sweetness in my hand and crush it small
And taste it in a moment, time and all!
These trees, whose slow growth measures off my years,
I would expand to greatness. No one hears,
And I am still retarded in duress!
And this is like that other restlessness
To seize the greatness not yet fairly earned,
One which the tougher poets have discerned—
Gascoigne, Ben Jonson, Greville, Raleigh, Donne,
Poets who wrote great poems, one by one,
And spaced by many years, each line an act
Through which few labor, which no men retract.
This passion is the scholar’s heritage,
The imposition of a busy age,
The passion to condense from book to book
Unbroken wisdom in a single look,
Though we know well that when this fix the head,
The mind’s immortal, but the man is dead.
Spring here in New Hampshire has not quite reached the "darkened with activity" stage. We're still in the blinding newness stage, but, I certainly feel how "excitement swells me, vein by vein." Personally, I wish the poem had ended at "And taste it in a moment, time and all!" I think the lines after it are superfluous. What do you think?

I didn't know anything about the poet, so I found a bio on The Poetry Foundation site. Click here to read it. I like this quote from Hayden Carruth, "...Of course, Winters is as insane as the rest of us, but he has made a whole career out of covering it up..." It reminds me of Mark Twain's "For business reasons, I must preserve the outward sign of sanity." Who can't relate?

I'm doing the Round-Up this week at Random Noodling. Stop by!



Katya said...

Here a little further south in CT we've started to "to crowd the little garden" -- peas, radishes, lettuce, kale, and chard have taken up two garden beds already.
Thank you for sharing that evocative poem.

Linda at teacherdance said...

I read it several times, and as for your question, it seems that he definitely had more to say about poets (or himself) than about spring growth, although that first part is just beautiful. I love "The future gathers in vine, bush, and tree". Thank you Diane.

Mur said...

I'm with you, Diane. It seems like two poems stuck together.

I'm Jet . . . said...

I love the beginning. The end . . . not so much.


Ruth said...

I love those Everyman editions -- they are wonderful. I have several of them and enjoy them very much.

Mary Lee said...

Gardening and reading. Wonderful combination!

Diane Mayr said...

At the Mass Poetry Festival I picked up a new Everyman's volume: Villanelles. It just came out, so the two editors did a reading with two other contributors. It really piqued my interest in the form, so I purchased a copy of the book.