Planting out more tomato seedlings into prepared pots of soil, compost, a little seaweed — our summers are so long that I can plant staggered batches of vegetables and herbs, keep harvesting into June next year. As I work outside, the dogs keep me company along with a small dark-haired woman in a blue-green cloak patterned with bold fiery roses. Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe and anyone who discourages feathered serpents in the hottest places of the garden is welcome.
The night before last I had a long dream about deciphering an alphabet in a tree and have begun rereading Robert Graves’ The White Goddess because he writes there about ancient tree alphabets and paying homage to the moon and golden bosomy Muses who only have time for egocentric male poets. Very much a man of his time and all that unconscious patriarchal privilege, Robert Graves, but some of his exploration of the sources of poetry, the myths and legends, holds an uncanny power. And, like so many others, Graves was not only a nature poet and mythmaker but also a war poet scarred for life by his experiences in the trenches of the First World War. As I walk between bushes of purple and red-flowering salvia and lavender, I think of those in Aleppo, in Cairo, in Afghanistan.
I’ve watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow,
In the fields between La Bassйe and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,
August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you’ve been everything.
Dear, you’ve been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches—pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that’s good.