The Poetry Of Gardens

"Gardens in themselves are essentially poetic, works of art constructed in the language of nature" writes John Hollander in his anthology of "Garden Poems".

a painting of the Garden of Eden.

Photo: thomas cole

John Hollander writes in his introduction to "Garden Poems" that the modern Garden of Eden "lies somewhere between the labor of farming for subsistence and the exercising of a craft, whether professional or amateur."

The Garden As A Poetic Expression

I have been reading an anthology of “Garden Poems” selected and edited by John Hollander.  In the forward he writes: “Gardens in themselves are essentially poetic, works of art constructed in the language of nature.”  Poems in the past were thought of as flowers and collections of poems were called anthologies, another name for flower-collections.  Poetry, of course, describes both real and imagined gardens.

The Biblical And Modern Garden of Eden

According to Hollander, the concept of “paradise, a Greek word, derived from the Persian name for an enclosed pleasure-garden, comes from the biblical story of Eden, which is an enclosed and perfect world.”  The perfect Garden of Eden was not formed by human hands, but modern gardening, according to Hollander, “lies somewhere between the labor of farming for subsistence and the exercising of a craft, whether professional or amateur.”

The Garden As A Woman

Poetry deals both with actual gardening and the mythological or imagined gardening. From the earliest times an enclosed garden has recurred as a metaphor for the feminine body.  Consider Poet Thomas Campion‘s lines:

There is a garden in her face
Where Roses and white Lillies grow
A heavenly paradise is that place
Wherein all pleasant fruits flow.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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