Louise Glück opens her forward to Green Squall by Jay Hopler with the following observation:
Before poetry began pitching its tents in the library and museum, before, that is, mediated experience supplanted what came to seem the naive fantasy of more direct encounter, a great many poems began in the garden.
There is of course “The Garden” by Andrew Marvell which reminds us in a fashion not dissimilar from Glück
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
It is however to an interesting experience I found in reading a poem from Catherine Bowman’s The Plath Cabinet to which I turn. There is a moment in the fall and spring, before or after the snow, and before or after the effulgence of vegetation, where the garden reveals its structure. On my first reading I cruised through “The Sylvia Convention: Flower Rooms” ravished by its variations only to understand when at the end when spotting in close proximity its XYZ references that what I was reading was an abecedarian*. And nevermore can I be so innocent in the garden.
Sylvias as Amaryllis aproned
whip up cakes, creams, chicken livers.
Sylvias as fields of Baby’s Breath practice
interviews for the BBC. Calla Lily
Sylvias change nappies, type Ted’s poems, hope
Windflower Sylvias, Sylvias as Xeranthemum
Yarrow, and Zinnia, hundreds and hundreds
gather, write poems like lightning, each one
quicker than the last: an irresistible blaze
There goes up in smoke my naive unknowing that the letters proceeded in a well-defined order. I have moved from the hedgerow or meadow to the potager knowing the garden walks in the realm of poetry can accommodate more wild encounters over the horizon and a trip home to the orderly vegetable patch of the kitchen garden.
*She does it again in “The O Store” in notarikon — pulled in by the pace and only retroactively taking in the ABC.
And so for day 2144