Monday, 2 January 2012

Midwinter Spring


Today I planted a dozen tulips and twenty white aliums on my balcony--third-floor gardening takes quite some effort---while mulling over a particularly mysterious dream about my ex-fiance, and love, and the future. After lunch, still inwardly ruminant, I wandered in chilly sunlight over to Holywell Cemetary, bosky and lovely resting place of many great and ancient university families. I've long been fond of this particular graveyard: aged eighteen, as a green country boy startled and discomfited by the experience of living in a city, I used to go and hide out in it between lectures, reading Traherne to the bees. Foxes and the odd deer appear and disappear between the bushes in summer, and it is full of red admirals and cinnabar moths settling on the hawkweed and marjoram which spring from so many graves ('beautiful uncut hair...'). It has a tranquil, sleepy spirit, cluttered with crumbling funerary monuments netted in briars---here a sleeping infant dreams on the crook of its arm under a yew-tree; there time is slowly veiling the face of a Victorian angel in moss.

By the gate there is a rosebush, covered today in perfect pinkish-white heavily scented flowers. It's hardly unusual for roses to keep flowering into late winter in a sheltered spot, but these were so beautiful, so untouched by damp or frost, that I caught my breath at the sight of them. And a little later, under an elder that was as bleak and bare as could be, I saw a little oak sapling in full summer leaf. Normally I would be disturbed by such signs of nature not knowing which way to turn in this mild winter, but the conjunction of these midsummer plants---oak leaves and pink roses---at midwinter seemed mysterious, charged with numen, rather than merely unnatural. My own mind's been filled with thoughts of renewal and transformation, of the slow healing of a broken heart, and this uncanny eflorescence of high summer in deep winter seemed to be a sign, to presage a change for the better. For I am every dead thing, in whom Love wrought new alchemy.

I picked one rose-sprig, and one set of oak leaves, and have them on the sill near me as I write. It felt appropriate to light a candle, in recognition, in thanks, and in invocation.

6 comments:

Suem said...

Ah, you write so beautifully, and you include a quote from one of my favourite Donne poems. Sheer bliss and really poetry in itself! Thank you!

Bo said...

Thanks Suem!

Hilaire said...

This is beautiful. A vision of renewal for all who read it. May your year be faithful to it!

Bo said...

Many thanks! --- I hope so!

Aelred Patrick said...

I was leafing through an old copy of The Economist & discovered an article on a chap called Robin Lane Fox & his book 'Thoughtful Gardening.' I also noticed he is a tutor in ancient history at Oxford and a fellow of New College. The connection with your good self struck me immediately, hence my post. Here is the link:
http://www.economist.com/node/17572388

Bo said...

I have it already! It's a bit more wingeing old Tory than I expected but the actual gardens themselves are great. Thanks for thinking of me!

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