Tree Rescuer builds “Garden of Poetry”

Tree Rescuer builds “Garden of Poetry”

At this year’s Giardina in Zurich, one of Europe’s indoor “live your garden” events, a Swiss landscape gardener has created “Garden of Poetry”. A closer look reveals that the low wall of the garden is made of books. Reading is seminal and transforms an ensconced retreat into a cosmopolitan garden: in the carriage on the left, authors of the “Reportagen” Magazine read reports form all over the world.

The landscape designer calls himself the “tree rescuer” and, in his own words, puts books where we expect bricks to return to nature what she has given or we have taken from her.

Of course, I could picture Dorothy and William interested in this indoor-outdoor landscape. But how Dorothy would have processed the experience in her journal I can hardly fathom. And William’s “Let Nature be your teacher”, I wonder what tables it would have turned.

-E.S.

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An Unexpected Question

Few days ago, during dinner with friends not schooled in literary studies, and after several readings of Frankenstein, I was confronted with an unprecedented question:

“If Victor wants to find the principle of life and defy death”, asked my friend, “why doesn’t he infuse life into a dead body instead of putting himself through the gut-churning business of collecting dead body parts and stitching them together?”

Indeed, I thought, he would defy death if he brought the dead back to life, just like scientists such as Luigi Galvani’s nephew were experimenting with dead animals and humans. This would have been the solution to his impatience, which was the reason behind his choice of big body parts to accelerate the assemblage and the creation of a human that literally stood out and scared people out of their wits by his sheer size.

Why wasn’t a beautiful dead body enough for Victor Frankenstein?

I wonder what you’d have answered …  – E.S

“I paddled as lonely as a cloud”

or “He paddled as solitary as a…”

Man as immersed into and part of nature or rather an intruder? A good question for anyone contemplating this picture I have just taken.

In any case, such a scenery on an ‘ordinary’ morning in spring really invites to write poetry and to capture the moment as the ‘extraordinary’.
Or is it an ‘extraordinary’ scenery that just needs to be described in ‘ordinary language’? I wonder what Wordsworth or Mary Shelley would answer to this question  – A.K

Community and the Individual in Wordsworth

After “five long winters” away from the banks of the river Wye, William Wordsworth speaks of a man’s reconnection with nature. He writes in Tintern Abbey:

Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion
It is as an individual alone that the speaker is able to access the true essence of nature. Deep thoughts begin to flow only when in solitude. He shows the desire to seek solace in the meandering flow of the river Wye, which is almost a role model for rambling individualism:
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
         How often has my spirit turned to thee!
Wordsworth’s inwardness and pleasure through seclusion of the human mind in harmony with nature contrasts that of Dorothy Wordsworth. In his lecture “Romanticism and the Invention of Nature,” Simon Bainbridge pointed out that as William was “wander[ing] lonely as a cloud” with the daffodils, Dorothy’s journals indicate that she was actually with him despite “the bliss of solitude” that the poem advocates. Dorothy’s journals exhibit a more reciprocal relationship with Nature. While Dorothy does spend a lot of time alone in nature and at home, she is often waiting for a letter or simply waiting for William’s return. Her journals show the beauty of nature yet the necessity of community as she walks about the Lake District meeting the townspeople.

For better or for worse, William came back from France as a new man and with a new perspective:

For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.
If humanity is collectivity or community, he seems to show little faith in his fellow human beings. The “sad music of humanity” could be the cries of the French Revolution which ring through his memory. But alas, a lonely walk in the nature seems to be the ultimate cure for this “worshipper of Nature.” After the appearance of his cherished sister towards the end of Tintern Abbey, he writes:
Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies
-C.H.

“The picture of the mind revives again”

Wordsworth tells us:

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet”
Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, ll 24 – 28
He sings the virtues of memory, but of a special kind. Not a photographic one, such as those held in the pages of an album, but rather a multi-dimensional one. To this recollection the mind may return and explore depths of field. This act of remembering allows for an active displacement in time, a true revisiting of past events. In this way, Wordsworth can return to Tintern Abbey and enjoy a vivid experience of the past. In the same way, two years after coming across a parterre of daffodils (as told us by Dorothy Wordsworth in her Grasmere Journals), he can float above the scene, enjoying a new, free-flying point of view.
Could this be part of the essence of Romanticism? The power of the mind to remember but also reinvest past scenes with a present sense of adventure.
Keats writes:
Then let winged Fancy wander
Through the thought still spread beyond her:
Open wide the mind’s cage-door,
She’ll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
To Fancy, ll 5-8
Who is Fancy- if not the embodiment of creative remembering? Do we not read, enjoy, weep at words on the page precisely because we are encountering the past revived, shown us from ” a few miles above”…?
So while the rain has returned to the shores of the Léman, dashing all our hopes of spring.
[Fancy] will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May
To Fancy, ll 29-33
 -L.M.

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