The sweetness of lines that endure and endear

My newspaper tells me that, today, 15 October, is Virgil’s birthday. He was born in 70 BC. To quote from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/virgil Publius Vergilius Maro was a classical Roman poet, best known for three major works—the Bucolics (or Eclogues), the Georgics, and the Aeneid—although several minor poems are also attributed to him. The son of a farmer in northern Italy, Virgil came to be regarded as one of Rome’s greatest poets; his Aeneid as Rome’s national epic.”

My  poetry book “Poem for the Day”, edited by Nicholas Albery,  tells me that, today, 15 October, is the day that English poet Robert Herrick died in 1674.  Robert Herrick was well-versed ( yes well-versed !) in the ancient authors, and like Virgil, many of his poems are pastoral or bucolic.  He also believed that he would  “triumph over “Times trans-shifting” and live beyond death through his verses” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-herrick

One of Herrick’s poems which lives on is Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn* about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
 
(* a lawn is a light scarf)
 
 
 
I think this poem is delightful. It reminds me, for the lace and the
 
petticoats, rather than any disorder, of my favourite portrait paintings by Ingres.

It  also takes me to the abundant and gorgeous

 
disarray of my garden.
 
This morning, I found the lily of the valley, like ‘erring lace’, here
 
and there, threaded through the flowers and greenery along the garden
 
path.
 
Lily of the Valley is another of my favourite plants.
 
It was my maternal grandmother’s favourite flower, and the Lily of the
 
Valley in my garden was given to me by her eldest daughter, my aunt.
Like erring lace

Like erring lace

I look forward to its appearance, every year, in early October, and ,more often than not, it arrives in time to help me  celebrate the October birthdays of my aunt and my grandmother 🙂  Clever little plants!

Another poet, sometimes pastoral,  is Eleanor Farjeon, most widely known for her poem/hymn, A Morning Song, Morning Has Broken.

In 1965, the year of  Eleanor Farjeon’s  death, a friend of my paternal grandmother gave me  Farjeon’s “The Children’s Bells”, ( first  published in 1957 ). It is a book of verse for children but contains this small poem, titled Sweet Robin Herrick (born 20 August 1591).  Although some of Herrick’s poems have a wantonness that  might be considered inappropriate for a child, Eleanor Farjeon obviously thought  him too important a poet to leave out from a child’s literary education!

This day Robin Herrick

Was born in Cheapside,

His father he laughed

And his mother she cried,

So to sweet Robin Herrick

‘Twas given to spy The tear in the marigold’s Laughing eye.”

I have no marigolds at this time of year, so the best I can do, to  perpetuate  this  enduring and wonderful  poetic lineage, is  to show some photos of  the wayward, wanton disorderly  poesie of my garden

Floral Notes: Lily of the Valley symbolises the return of happiness. It is the national flower of Finland and the flower of May in the Northern Hemisphere. And its delicate scent makes it a lovely addition to a small floral bouquet on my kitchen window sill. (It was also in Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet 🙂 )

© silkannthreades

A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
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71 thoughts on “The sweetness of lines that endure and endear

  1. Pingback: Amazing words | silkannthreades

  2. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    Love lily of the valley, they have such a delicate demeanour even though they’re so hardy. They’re frequently used in shady spots in landscaping, and I’ve found them growing wild while I’ve been out hiking.

    And I’ve always loved “Morning Has Broken.” My Mum always played her Cat Stevens albums for my brother and I when we were kids.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      “Morning Has Broken” is deeply lovely. I wonder if we would all start the day in a better mood if we woke up to that song every morning. I should experiment 🙂
      Lily of the Valley is hardy once it becomes established…I guess light and lovely can hide hidden strengths.

      Reply
  3. greenlightlady

    Thank you for endearing my heart even more to lily of the valley. My favorite aunt had it in her garden when I was a child; I adored its lovely fragrance and deep green leaves. It thrilled me to find it well established in our present garden when we moved in just over three years ago. Now I must remember to use it in my daughter’s wedding bouquet years from now…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I can imagine your delight in finding lily of the valley already in your new home. Does it live up to its Latin name and appear in May? I have included a link to the royal wedding bouquet, which, hopefully, you will be able to access. What I loved also is that, following royal tradition, the bouquet was placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the wedding. So poignant.

      http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/apr/30/kate-middleton-homegrown-bouquet-wedding

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thanks for the link to your beautiful post. Such a wonderful selection of white flowers. How wonderful that you were able to gift flowers from your garden to a friend’s wedding. We are often so intent on having the best flowers, from a florist, for a wedding that we forget the loveliness and special pleasure that home grown flowers offer to a wedding or an important life event. Blessings for your daughter’s hopes and dreams 🙂

  4. teamgloria

    ooooo!

    *looksaroundhappily*

    Latin and Cat Stevens!

    quelle joy.

    morning has Not yet broken over here in the land of movie stars wearing cold cream and a compress the morning after but your careful insertion of an Audio track is now lighting the pre-dawn.

    delicious!

    Reply
  5. Mrs. P

    I love the Poem A Delight in Disorder and I completely agree that sometimes it is the thing out of place that makes something more interesting. I loved that your Lily of the Valley photo just below the poem had a bit of bug nibbles on it. The photo A Wild Civility is beautiful with its textures and randomness and just a little bit of color. Very nicely arranged to fit the words. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your sweet comments. And yes the bugs have been tasting the Lily of the Valley 🙂 They nibble on everything in my garden! I have disorder everywhere 😉

      Reply
  6. Just Add Attitude

    Lily of the valley is so very pretty. How lovely to have a connection with your grandmother through the plant you have growing in your garden and lovely also to have some of the pretty flowers for a floral bouquet on your kitchen window ledge. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, it is lovely. Unfortunately, most of what I know about my grandmother comes from family stories and hearsay because I was quite young when she died. I spent time in the garden with my grandfather but not my grandmother. She was either in the ktichen or confined to bed.

      Reply
  7. Sheryl

    This post makes me realize that I don’t know what a Lily of the Valley smells like. I guess that I’ve never taken the time to fully appreciate this beautiful flower. Next spring (which seems like it a long ways off in the northern hemisphere), I’m going to try to remember to cut a few and put them in a bud vase in my kitchen.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Where is scent-o-vision (or something like it) so I can attach the fragrance to my images? It is a very delicate scent and fresh and light and ….now words fail me……you will have to wait until spring 🙂

      Reply
  8. Clanmother

    I love Virgil – to me, he was the master of “one-liners.” People quote him without even knowing it!

    “Fortune favours the bold”
    “Fate will find a way.”
    “He enters the port with a full sail.”
    “They succeed, because they think they can.”
    “Love conquers all.”

    And my personal favourite – “Fortune sides with him who dares.”

    Alway a joy to visit!!! 🙂 How about our Canadian/New Zealand connection with the Man Booker Prize. The first person I thought about was you!! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh thank you for telling me the origin of those sayings. I think the only one I knew as Virgil was “love conquers all”. Yes, yes I have just read your post about Eleanor. Wonderful news and what a connection to have. I am a little terrified by the size of the book. One of our reviewers, who loved the book, actually had to cut it in half to cope with the weight!!!!!!!! whilst she read it.

      Reply
      1. Clanmother

        I’m going to wait until it comes out in audio-form. I usually don’t read fiction, but I think I’ll make an exception on this one… 🙂 Loved our Canadian/New Zealand connection!! 🙂

        Reply
  9. valeriedavies

    This was a such a lovely post, every word and every picture delightful… we used to sing ‘Morning has broken” at school, always one of my favourites, and then Cat Stevens made it his own, and I loved it even more…Thank you for including his version… it never stales

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased you enjoyed the Cat Stevens version of Morning Has Broken. I dithered about putting it in my post but it is such an uplifting song, and brings back so many memories, I decided I simply had to fit it in.

      Reply
  10. ordinarygood

    Lily of the Valley was my maternal grandmother’s favourite flower and I loved it too. I use the past tense because it took to my garden with wild delight and an urge to take over the patch, if not the world and its garden. I needed to disempower it because there were other special plants that I did not want choked out. I do note it has popped up in a couple of spots again. I will let it flower and then consider marshalling it into a large pot. Perhaps its reappearance is a sign of great happiness just waiting to burst forth:-)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Your conditions in Wellington must be perfect for Lily of the Valley. My little patch has taken so long to establish itself, and, even now, I hesitate to use the word ” establish”. Let’s hope the reappearance heralds great happiness! I think the idea of having it in pots is a lovely one. A friend of mine has tulips in pots and they look fabulous.

      Reply
  11. Ellen Grace Olinger

    My mother loved lily of the valley too, and she knew Latin. I love reading the older poets – and an imperfect garden, clothes from thrift stores. Thanks for all you share. Your garden is beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Ellen. It’s amazing that such a small, delicate flower continues to be so beloved by so many. Perhaps, part of its enduring popularity is because of its association with the Bible and its other name, Mary’s Tears. Glad you are enjoying some of my older posts.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. Although I am really quite unfamiliar with Virgil, I did like the idea of his mentoring/teaching role through the ages. The lines he wrote have been reworked and extended and extended ,in one way or another, into thousands of lines and words and images over the ages. The power of words!!!!

      Reply
  12. tiny lessons blog

    Delight in Disorder is captivating! It paints such a vivid picture, loved it. And your Lily of the Valley is gorgeous. I haven’t seen it “live” for a long time but still remember the scent.

    Reply
  13. Forest So Green

    Poetry and spring flowers, you know how to delight the senses. We also have lily-of-the-valley in our garden.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The song is great! I am not sure I understand the poem completely either. But I felt it was right for my garden scene. The flowers are a fine distraction; I agree. They certainly distract me from all the things I should be doing!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Aww, thank you. Just as well to be a beauty addict, because there are some awful, ugly bits that require determined avoidance ( I didn’t mention the noisy diggers and machines working on “I know not what” on the road in front of the house!)

      Reply
  14. ladysighs

    “A sweet disorder in the dress”
    Yesterday I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting and waiting! And of course people watching. A little old lady came in. She was dressed in a full black skirt, a colorful flowery blouse and a black short jacket. She had flat black shoes and I think support hose. Dark black/gray hair swept up and anchored with a beautiful comb. She was short and a bit stooped. But there in the back was her white petticoat hanging down. The sweet disorder was so obvious. She was picture perfect.

    And there I sat in my sloppy jeans and tee shirt. lol I wonder who was watching this little old lady. 😦

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      LOL, I wonder! But I love your story of the sweet disorder of the petticoat. It is perfect. I don’t know about you, but I have been there and done that! Partly why I took to wearing trousers. However, one day after a busy afternoon in town I came home and realised that I had a big hole in the seat of my trews. Shameful.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Quite possibly so! Fortunately, (some might say, unfortunately,), I didn’t advance enough in Latin to reach the translating poetry level! You may be amused by Eleanor Farjeon’s attempt to encourage children to enjoy Latin and poetry.
      It begins “When Julius Caesar was a child
      In Rome, the same things drove him wild
      As now in England fidget us.
      He blubbered in the Latin tongue:
      ‘Mater, a naughty Apis stung
      Me here, upon the Digitus!’
      (By which he meant: “A naughty Bee
      Has stung my finger, Mother, see!’)…….

      Mmmmm, wonder why you relate to Burns 😉 😉 😉 I like Burns too; must be our Scottish heritage, do you think? !!!

      Reply
  15. utesmile

    Beautiful pictures of lovely flowers in your garden and I love that song too! Nice for my morning before I go to work now! Enjoy your day! Enjoy the flowers!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Virgil is not on my reading list either. I have only ever had a passing acquaintance with his work and that was when my daughter was studying classics at university. I was taken though with the possible connections between the two ‘famous’ names, Virgil and Herrick, that thrust themselves forward in my reading this morning. Love the way you describe lily of the valley.

      Reply

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