“In Praise of a Garden” by Alexander Robertson

by theliterarymaiden

In Praise of a Garden
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

(On Receiving Gifts from Home)

Welcome gift which brings to mind
An old tree whose shadows kind
Often on a summer’s day
Eased my labours as I lay
Lazy on a canvas chair
With a strange and pensive stare
Seeing all yet seeing nought
Save the entities of thought,
Poets’ visions: griefs extreme
Ne’er existent in the scheme
Of things real, but which show
Purport in our actual woe
(Poets by imagined grief
Purify and bring relief)
Scenes for laughter such as there
Are in plays of Molière.
Or of Shakespeare, wit that stings
And unmasks fair seeming things,
Tales of Swift or of Voltaire
Mocking all with virtue’s air,
Or while many a smoke-wreath curled
All the fortunes of the world,
And the strivings of mankind
Towards a future undefined
But which faith considers worth
The deep anguish of its birth—
Or abstractions such as “I,”
“Space” and “Time” and “Entity”
And “Ideas”—patterns they
Of the things of every day.
Yet the mind on thought intent
Was most strangely impotent,
For that garden ivy-walled
Was as green as emerald,
All the apple bloom of May
Fallen on some tempestuous day.
From the cars the passers-by
Cast on it an envious eye,
Though but briefly they can see
This theme for a rhapsody:—
Aired it is by breezes which
Many a garden doth enrich
With flash of gold and gleam of red
In its sheltered flower-bed,
With broken shade and sunshine on
The shorn verdure of its lawn,
And their shadowed traceries
On the path beneath the trees,
And glimpses amid leaves that sway
Of a hillside and the gray
Of mansions near; but of the hour
For the full-evolved flower
Of its beauty nought they know:
It is the time when small clouds go
Lazily along the sky,
Cross the moonlight radiantly:—
Then it wears its fairest dress:—
Its June midnight loveliness.

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