Magnolia Poetry

What wondrous life is this I lead?

What wondrous life is this I lead?

Today, Friday, 16th August, is our National Poetry Day. We are encouraged to write poems, read poems and spend our day enjoying and promoting poetry. Writing poetry is difficult for me. And I find poetry difficult to read and understand, as well.

Nevertheless, I am warming to poetry thanks to reading poetry blogs and a wonderful book which I read every day called  “Poem for the Day” ,edited by Nicholas Albery. Today’s poem is from “Thoughts in a Garden” by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678).  Here is the beginning of the excerpt:

What wondrous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
Here, it is not the season for apples and grapes. Not harvest time, but the time for budding and blossoming, as Spring prepares for its official arrival next month.
A poet who wrote of the coming Spring is our own Christchurch poet, Ursula Bethell. Listen to this extract from her poem The Soothsayer, from From a Garden in the Antipodes (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929)

I walked back down the pathway,
The evening light lay gently on the orchard;
Then I saw a redness on the peach boughs,
And bulb-spears pushing upwards,
And heard the old blackbird whistle
‘Get ready. Get ready. Get ready.
Quick. Quick. Spring.’

I cannot find words to equal either poet but, if I take a very broad interpretation of the origins of the word poem, that is something composed or created, I can pretend that these photos of my magnolia tree are a poem…. a sweetly scented, floral, poetical arrangement  from my garden to honour National Poetry Day.

For those of you who would like to know more about Ursula Bethell and her poetry follow these links

http://www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz/authors/bethell/  and http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Literature/People/B/Bethell_Mary_Ursula/. 

Her poetry is of my land, my knowing, and it speaks to me more easily than Marvell’s words do. Yet, like, me she was not born here, and other places pull on her heartstrings. Her garden gives her a sense of  belonging but does not dispel the longing for other times and places.

© silkannthreades

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75 thoughts on “Magnolia Poetry

  1. mmmarzipan

    I love your picture poetry (beautiful!)… and I love magnolias too. They are amongst the first flowers that herald spring time here in Sweden… I always look forward to their arrival 🙂

    Reply
  2. vsperry

    I really love the pinks and blues…once again I am struck by the difference in colors of our two seasons. Things are starting to turn to earth tones here and you’re getting the pastels. It is lovely to see! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hopefully we are both getting the blue skies still, although the quality of the light in that sky will be different for each of us. I love spring colours but I think I am drawn more to the intensity of the autumn tones.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. It is a beautiful tree but the flowers are only out for such a short time :(. The blooms this year are the best yet. I think we have had the tree for about 7 or 8 years so it has taken a long time to get established.

      Reply
  3. gpcox

    I want to take this opportunity to not only tell you how much I enjoy your site, but to thank you for your loyal participation on mine. You boost my enthusiasm by your friendship.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I learn so much from your blog. If you have a moment, check out the link to the USS Pinkney on my post. I was so astonished to learn about its full story. And it brought a tear to my eye thinking that this vessel linked our stories, by a thin thread, but still a thread.

      Reply
      1. gpcox

        More than a thin thread. The Pinkney was in the Philippines the same time as Smitty; he may have been on it to go there or some of his buddies may have been evacuated by the ship. A great story – I enjoyed it – Thank You.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I thought that could be possible. I am not sure how long my father was on it. It seems she was a strong vessel and did an incredible amount of work during the war and after.

  4. teamgloria

    OH! what a glorious post!

    magnolia and a poem.

    your garden is magnificent. truly magnificent.

    may we make a request?

    ursula’s poem about christmas time – at christmas time in your garden illustrated with whatever blooms there then? http://www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz/authors/bethell/yule.asp

    we are transformed and awakened beautifully over here on sunday morning in sunny southern california by those magnolia blooms and the words you found for us all to read……divine.

    Reply
  5. utesmile

    Wonderful, I love all those beautiful pictures of the pink Mangnolias, they are such beautiful flowers. (I heard that there was another earthquake in NZ, hope you are ok. I think it was in Wellington though)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      They are so beautiful 🙂 Yes, the earthquakes are around Wellington and at the top of the South Island. It is an area with lots of fault lines.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is absolutely wonderful to know…..the flowers look as though they should be gently cradled in one’s hands and presented to someone important, like a bride or a baby. I am so delighted to have this link; tomorrow, I will venture outside and give the blooms a little kiss in thankfulness for their divine beauty. I will have to be careful though that I don’t connect with one of the many bees buzzing round the magnolias.

      Reply
  6. lagottocattleya

    i’m glad you are all well. Your magnolia poetry is so wonderful – in serenity, colours, freshness…everything about it, I love. Have a fine weekend with hopefully no more movements from the earth…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you; and let’s hope for peace and serenity all round. The rain is falling today, so I am very glad I did photograph the magnolias yesterday, when the sun was tantalising us with a taste of the warmth of spring.

      Reply
  7. cindy knoke

    The photos are so beautiful and the poem is wonderful. Self talk switch alert!! You can write beautiful poetry because you are person who looks at the world poetically. Bravo~

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I think she is….one of the greatest, if not THE greatest. Isn’t it a pity that we are only given a Day to celebrate poetry? Our Music gets a month! Poetry should protest and ask for equality 😉

      Reply
  8. Forest So Green

    How wonderful to wake up to your beautiful magnolias and poetry. I hope your earthquakes quiet down. Sounds scary to me. Annie

    Reply
  9. tiny lessons blog

    Happy National Poetry Day! I love poetry…as you know – thanks for the tips! Your Magnolia pictures are truly gorgeous! I had a magnolia tree in my garden up in D.C. and it was always a harbinger of spring in late April for us.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I am hoping that the rain forecast for this weekend won’t ruin the blooms. But, alas, it usually does. And, yes, your poems are amongst the ones that inspire and encourage me to persevere with poetry. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Mrs. P

    Oh yes, you inspired me to write a quick post about poetry. 🙂 Not my greatest forte either but it is National Poetry Day, right?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I hope you have a few moments to read some of Ursula Bethell’s garden poems. I thought of you as I was reading them. You seem to share a common enchantment with your immediate natural environment.

      Reply
  11. Heather in Arles

    G, I just read about a big earthquake in NZ–did it happen near you? Everything all right?
    Sending Strength and my Best Wishes.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, dear Heather in Arles. We are fine. Fortunately those nearer the center of the country, and therefore nearer the epicenter of the earthquake, are fine too. Just badly rattled. I expect they will have an unsettled night with aftershocks continuing as they are.

      Reply
      1. Heather in Arles

        Oh good. I lived for some years directly on a fault line in Santa Cruz, California and so know firsthand how scary such things can be. Now, I can relax and take in the beauty of your photo poems!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Wonderful, please enjoy them.( They are homespun but I love them) We are ,of course, feeling anxious on behalf of friends and family who do live near the epicenter. Like you, we know how horrible it is to be rumbled and tumbled. I appreciate your concern.

  12. ordinarygood

    Thank you!! I can soak up your beautiful photos – what a delicious pink those magnolia flowers are. My concentration is very off line after all the earthquakes today.
    I remember “studying” the Andrew Marvell poem at university.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The magnolias astonish me with their satin textures and the furry bud enclosure is as soft as a child’s teddy bear. It’s gorgeous. The Marvell poem is long… Bethell’s poetry about her garden are about the right length for my concentration levels. Speaking of which, I found it very hard to read or concentrate after our earthquakes. I managed knitting, a little bit. Took me nearly a year to start reading again 😦 Skyping with friends was the best help.

      Reply
      1. ordinarygood

        My magnolia is just coming out. It is a much darker colour compared with yours.
        I knitted this afternoon as I waited for family to get home. The effect of these earthquakes is far reaching.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I love those darker magnolias too. There is a street near us which the council has lined with dark coloured magnolia trees. I must go and see if they are out already.

        2. ordinarygood

          Magnolias are wonderful. Although when I was at university in the 1970’s they flowered later and heralded study time for finals:-( Climate change sees them flowering a month earlier now.

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          How interesting. I don’t remember magnolias at all in the seventies. I do remember that the sun was always at its best when it was study time and exam time, which seemed incredibly unfair.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. Magnolias and spring flowers are very difficult to photograph I find. This morning the magnolias looked so glorious. Yet at night the street light shines on the blooms and they look even better than they do in daylight.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Impossible for me to capture with my little camera! I also meant to say in my previous comment that your jewellery is like poetry 🙂

        2. Tracy Rhynas

          That’s just it, I don’t know! I can’t imagine my life now without my jewellery making in it, it has slowly taken over during the the last 5 years – I must have simply spent my evenings watching more TV or reading more books!! (My garden may have suffered a bit too.)

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