The First Crocus Emerges Alone: March 28 2014

 

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The Crocus emerges like whisper,

Barely heard through cold winds,

Lonely, yet lovely

The spathe slips forward

Stretching toward sunlight.

 

 

Spring at Last: Stages of a Crocus

This diagram is from A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners by E. A. Bowles Ma.A., F.L.S., F.r.E.S., V.M.H. published by The Garden Book Club, 121 Charing Cross Road, London WC2. in 1955. I found this on a wonderful British site: Ivy Dene Gardens.

“She opens the paper wrappings,
hands delicate as a crocus unfolding
in the morning light. Little hands working
to part the frail chapter of circumstance
where histories float like clouds on an untouchable scrim.”

From, The Vistor, by Anya Russian

Here are the stages of the Crocus, in pictures, taken from my own garden Spring 2011.

1. Leaves push up from the ground.

2. Spathe emerges. You can see the purple of the flower cocooned within. This is like the birthing phase and the spathe is like the womb. It almost looks alien.

3. Bloom pushes out of the spathe.

4. Bloom begins to unfold.

And unfold…

And unfold.

More crocus in The Garden:

Karin Gottshall from her book: Crocus

To read entire book, click on link above.

I was in bed all day with the sun

and a heavy dictionary.
I watched the cat fall asleep
on the wove rug. Outside

a bird unspooled its song in wide,
round loops: drifting off,
coming back. Memory is like that—

words loosed like dust motes,
a dream I slip into: this cat’s
green-eyed mother, her grave

under licorice root and money trees.
Then come the angels of the afternoon
with their wings of flame.

one day language will unbind itself
from me—even to the barest
particulars: the first time

I heard the word crocus, the new
spring sun on my shoulder, smell
of mud—quick freshet
working itself free. At last
to release this word I
into the long blue currents of the sea.

Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson 183 Years Old Today!

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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.   If she were still alive today, she’d be 183 years old!

Emily lived a privileged, but extremely secluded life.  She was even known as “The Woman in White”–a somewhat mystical figure in her day even to the townspeople.  The reason for her seclusion has never been fully known, but  has added to the mystery and the extra passion we bring to reading her poems as we all hope to discover new things.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect to her through her passion for gardening as I started my own garden from scratch.

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Some basics facts we know about Emily’s childhood:

She was born into a successful and educated Amherst family who were pillars of the town’s society.  Her paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, had almost single-handedly founded the local Amherst College and her father, Edward, was treasurer of the college for almost forty years and served numerous terms as a State Legislator.

Emily’s mother was Emily Norcross.  While Emily described her father in a warm manner, her correspondence suggests that her mother was regularly cold and aloof. In a letter to a confidante, Emily wrote she “always ran Home to Awe [Austin] when a child, if anything befell me. He was an awful Mother, but I liked him better than none.”

Her brother was William “Austin” and her sister Lavinia “Vinnie”.  She continued to live with Vinnie after the death of their parents and Austin lived next door with his wife and their children.

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In 1840, her father purchased a house on North Pleasant Street. Emily’s brother Austin later described this large new home as the “mansion” over which he and Emily presided as “lord and lady” while their parents were absent.The house overlooked Amherst’s burial ground, described by one local minister as treeless and “forbidding”.

The influence of Emily’s family upon Emily was profound considering she lived with them her entire life–writing, corresponding with friends and gardening.  She is arguably one of the most posthumously successful American  private poets with fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems published during her lifetime.

They shut me up in prose–

As when a little girl

They put me in the closet–

Because they liked me “still”–

Still!  Could themself have peeped–

And seen my brain — go round–

They might as wise have lodged a bird

For treason — in the pound–

(Sources various biographies, anthologies and Wikipedia.)

NY Times On New Emily Dickinson Archive

Enigmatic Dickinson Revealed from The New York Times:

The manuscripts of Emily Dickinson have long been scattered across multiple archives, meaning scholars had to knock on numerous doors to see all the handwritten drafts of a poet whose work went almost entirely unpublished in her lifetime.

 The online Emily Dickinson Archive, to be inaugurated on Wednesday, promises to change all that by bringing together on a single open-access Web site thousands of manuscripts held by Harvard University, Amherst College, the Boston Public Library and five other institutions. Now, scholars and lay readers alike will be able to browse easily through handwritten versions of favorite poems, puzzle over lines that snake along the edges of used envelopes and other scraps of paper, or zoom in on one of Dickinson’s famous dashes until it almost fills the screen.

“To have all these manuscripts together on one site and to have it so thoroughly searchable is extraordinary,” said Cristanne Miller, a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a member of the project’s advisory board.

But the project, organized and financed by Harvard, has also generated enough behind-the-scenes intrigue to fill an imaginary Journal of Emily Dickinson Studies Studies, as one board member jokingly put it.

Since planning began two years ago, there has been a revival of decades-old tensions between Harvard and Amherst, which hold the two largest Dickinson collections. And sometimes-bitter debate has flared on the advisory board, with some members saying that Harvard’s choice of which materials to include provides too narrow an answer to a basic question: Just what counts as an Emily Dickinson “poem,” anyway?

“The scholarship with any major figure produces factions and divisions,” said Christopher Benfey, a Dickinson scholar at Mount Holyoke College, who is not involved with the project. “But with Dickinson, the truly bizarre thing is the quarrel has been handed to generation after generation after generation.”

The trouble began when Dickinson died, in 1886, leaving behind just 10 published poems and a vast and enigmatic handwritten paper trail, ranging from finished-seeming poems assembled into hand-sewn books to fragments inscribed on advertising fliers, envelope flaps, brown household paper, even a chocolate wrapper…

Harvard Has Made Emily Dickinson’s Archive Available Online!!!

Dear Harvard,

You rock!

Love always,

Emily Dickinson’s Garden

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Harvard has made available ONLINE almost the entire Emily Dickinson collection from both their museum and Amherst’s.  I wrote a post asking for this a couple years back–click here

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From the Boston Globe (Sarah Schweitzer):

Emily Dickinson was well known for her reluctance to publish her work. Only a smattering of her poems appeared in print during her lifetime, anonymously and likely without her knowledge. A fellow author scolded her for her reticence: “You are a great poet — and it is a wrong to the day you live in, that you will not sing aloud.”

Now, Harvard will sing aloud for Dickinson. This week, the university plans to roll out the Emily Dickinson Archive that digitally gathers, for the first time in one place, all surviving Dickinson autograph manuscripts and letters, along with contemporary transcripts of Dickinson poems that did not survive in autograph. The website says the aim is to provide a resource from which scholarship can be produced.

The development of the digital collection has not been without bumps and resentments — many rooted in the conflicts over ownership of Dickinson’s work that date to the late 19th century and reflect the deep and abiding fervor that her work inspires.

The project got underway nearly two years ago when Harvard approached Amherst College, another major repository of Dickinson manuscripts. After a prolonged back-and-forth, during which Harvard commenced planning the digital project, Amherst in July agreed to share its collection for inclusion. It estimates that its manuscripts comprise 40 percent of the Emily Dickinson Archive……click here to read full article at their site.

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Thank you, Harvard.

Love always,

The world.

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Mayday, The Celebration of the Goddess Flora (Chloris)

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For the month of May, Flora tells how she was once the nymph Chloris, and breathes out flowers as she does so.

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Aroused to a fiery passion by her beauty, Zephyr, the god of the wind, follows her and forcefully takes her as his wife. Regretting his violence, he transforms her into Flora, his gift gives her a beautiful garden in which eternal spring reigns.

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In Roman mythology, Flora (Latin: Flōra) was a goddess of flowers and the season of spring. While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime.

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Her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 B.C.E but on the advice of the Sibylline books she was given another temple in 238 B.C.E. Her Greek equivalent was Chloris, who was a nymph and not a goddess at all. Flora was married to Favonius, the wind god, and her companion was Hercules. On May 23 another festival was held in her honor.

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I was on vacation in Florida last weekend–what a wonderful warm break from the bitterly cold northwest. While there I combined a bit of business with pleasure, researching the arts in the community for poets, writers, & musicians. I found a few, but not nearly as many as seem to spring up from the harsh locked-in, sedentary world of winter we have here. And I wondered, do you need the bad weather to slow you down enough to finish your artistic callings? This poem rather sums up my thoughts…

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The Poetry of Bad Weather

Debora Greger

Someone had propped a skateboard
by the door of the classroom,
to make quick his escape, come the bell.

For it was February in Florida,
the air of instruction thick with tanning butter.
Why, my students wondered,

did the great dead poets all live north of us?
Was there nothing to do all winter there
but pine for better weather?

Had we a window, the class could keep an eye
on the clock and yet watch the wild plum
nod with the absent grace of the young.

We could study the showy scatter of petals.
We could, for want of a better word, call it “snowy.”
The room filled with stillness, flake by flake.

Only the dull roar of air forced to spend its life indoors
could be heard. Not even the songbird
of a cell phone chirped. Go home,

I wanted to tell the horse on the page.
You know the way, even in snow
gone blue with cold.