Classic Garden Poetry

"Gardening helps us realize somatically, viscerally, the laws of growth and gradual unfolding. We can't pull the plants up to make them grow, but we can help facilitate and midwife their blooming, each in his own way, time, and proper season. I have learned a little about patience and humility from my gardens. It's so obviously not something I'm doing that creates this miracle! I also like to reflect upon and appreciate the exquisitely, evanescent, transitory, and poignant nature of things in the garden. If you love the Dharma, you have to farm it. Go to a garden. Just stand in it. Breathe in the air, the fragrances, the light, the temperature, the music of the different plants, insects, birds, worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and butterflies. Inhale the prana (cosmic energy) of all the abundantly growing things. Recharge your inner batteries. This is the joy of natural meditation."

- Lama Surya Das, Awakening to the Sacred, 1999

From The Garden of Heaven


FROM the garden of Heaven a western breeze
Blows through the leaves of my garden of earth;
With a love like a huri I’ld take mine ease,
And wine! bring me wine, the giver of mirth!
To-day the beggar may boast him a king,
His banqueting-hall is the ripening field,
And his tent the shadow that soft clouds fling.

A tale of April the meadows unfold–
Ah, foolish for future credit to slave,
And to leave the cash of the present untold!
Build a fort with wine where thy heart may brave
The assault of the world; when thy fortress falls,
The relentless victor shall knead from thy dust
The bricks that repair its crumbling walls.

Trust not the word of that foe in the fight!
Shall the lamp of the synagogue lend its flame
To set thy monastic torches alight?
Drunken am I, yet place not my name
In the Book of Doom, nor pass judgment on it;
Who knows what the secret finger of Fate
Upon his own white forehead has writ!

And when the spirit of Hafiz has fled,
Follow his bier with a tribute of sighs;
Though the ocean of sin has closed o’er his head,
He may find a place in God’s Paradise.


From: Teachings of Hafiz

Translated by Gertrude Bell 1897

To Linger in a Garden Fair


MIRTH, Spring, to linger in a garden fair,
What more has earth to give? All ye that wait,
Where is the Cup-bearer, the flagon where?
When pleasant hours slip from the hand of Fate,
Reckon each hour as a certain gain;
Who seeks to know the end of mortal care
Shall question his experience in vain.

Thy fettered life hangs on a single thread–
Some comfort for thy present ills devise,
But those that time may bring thou shalt not dread.
Waters of Life and Irem’s Paradise–
What meaning do our dreams and pomp convey,
Save that beside a mighty stream, wide-fed,
We sit and sing of wine and go our way!

The modest and the merry shall be seen
To boast their kinship with a single voice;
There are no differences to choose between,
Thou art but flattering thy soul with choice!
Who knows the Curtain’s secret? . . . Heaven is mute
And yet with Him who holds the Curtain, e’en
With Him, oh Braggart, thou would’st raise dispute!

Although His thrall shall miss the road and err,
‘Tis but to teach him wisdom through distress,
Else Pardon and Compassionate Mercy were
But empty syllables and meaningless.
The Zealot thirsts for draughts of Kausar’s wine,
And Hafiz doth an earthly cup prefer–
But what, between the two, is God’s design?


From: Teachings of Hafiz

Translated by Gertrude Bell 1897

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"For thirty years I have been in search of the swordsman;
Many a time have I watched the leaves decay
and the branches shoot!
Ever since I saw for once the peaches in bloom,
Not a shadow of doubt do I cherish."

- Ling-Yün and the Peach Blossoms

And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous

 

. ~Rumi

*******

 

The garden of love is green without limit and yields many fruit other than sorrow and joy

.

~Rumi

********

 

Come out here where the roses have opened. Let soul and world meet.

 

~Rumi

********

 

Written by: William Henry Davies 

 
 A week ago I had a fire 
To warm my feet, my hands and face; 
Cold winds, that never make a friend, 
Crept in and out of every place.
Today the fields are rich in grass, And buttercups in thousands grow; I'll show the world where I have been-- With gold-dust seen on either shoe.
Till to my garden back I come, Where bumble-bees for hours and hours Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums, To wriggle out of hollow flowers.

The Little Garden
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Amy Lowell (from A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, 1912)
clr gif


A little garden on a bleak hillside
    Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
    Lies far into the spring. The sun’s pale glow
Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
About the single rose bush. All denied
    Of nature’s tender ministries. But no, —
    For wonder-working faith has made it blow
With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
    Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
    Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
Here four o’clocks, to the passionate night above
    Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
    A little garden, loved with a great love!

Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence? 
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds. 
Open your doors and look abroad. 
From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before. 
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years. 

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