ancient Chinese painting of a royal court tea ceremony‘The Tea Garden: A Crown of Sonnets’ and Other Poetry by Evan Mantyk The Society August 6, 2017 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 16 Comments On Visiting the Tea Garden in Middletown, New York I. A harried daddy with two kids in tow, Maneuvering through city streets and cars, I look around quite nervously for crows Whose filthy bombs my head before had marred. I dashed in through the front door of the place, A maniac who straggled desp’rately Straight to the counter through the tranquil space, I had ten minutes only for some tea. “Give me something to make it worth the trip!” I thought, but said, “Which do you recommend?” And then as if by thought and not by lip, She spoke and offered me a floral blend: A soothing oolong and Chrysanthemum, The flavor of a mystic garden’s hum. II. The flavor of a mystic garden’s hum And misty essence of the mountain top From where the shriveled leaves of tea did come, Infuse as time slows nearly to a stop. There, fragrance of the flowers mixed with dew Congeals to rest upon the tea plant’s leaves And then with piercing sunshine further stew Into a potion made from Heaven’s sieve. Rich scenes of rivers bending out of sight And legends of Immortals in the caves, Of fairies dancing in the full moonlight, Rub on the plant as on the shore rub waves. These leaves then plucked and cast across the world Have all this hidden magic in them curled. III. “…Have all this hidden magic in them curled,” The Lady of the garden teahouse said. Indeed, I’ve traveled all around the world, And peering down from clouds has been my head, I never tasted anything like that, So soothing and refreshing to the mind Like ocean vast and grand, yet calm and flat, And all my shallow troubles left behind. The tea-filled, smiling kids to me have changed, No longer baggage, they’re endangered pets, Some fleck of gold in each warm breath contained, “Have they or I or both somehow reset?” Ten minutes at the tea house now are up, The bottom seems the top of my tea cup. The Trojan Treasure The Trojan War has finished its long course. Achaeans won by sneaking past the vaulting walls As if they were a gift: a wooden horse; A decade done, at last the city falls! And yet the riches found were not it all, Along with war, there came a great resource Achilles’ n’ Agamemnon’s egos tall Were humbled to the ground with mighty force. The greatest hero and Achaean king Saw limits to their sight and faced their error; Their compromise, a wretched shineless thing, Was their most brilliant and enlight’ning treasure. Amidst life’s war, when warrior wills compete, Just do your job and one day bitter’s sweet. Written July 9, 2013 / Revised June 19, 2017 Evan Mantyk is President of the Society of Classical Poets. He teaches literature and history in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 16 Responses Joseph Charles MacKenzie August 6, 2017 I would like to be the first to congratulate Evan Mantyk, editor of our nation’s most important venue of traditional poetry, for daring a veritable “corona” of sonnets based on the simplest of experiences. In the Ars Poetica Nova, we see Shakespeare’s sonnet form once more privileged, with the inevitable referencing of John Donne’s “La Corona.” And just as the Holy Sonnets were Donne’s refuge from the vicissitudes of a false career in the worst kind of poetry (we only read his Holy Sonnets today), so here, the reader accepts takes refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city in the tea garden of the imagination. “And all my fleeting troubles left behind…” The Tea Garden Sonnets are not ponderous or profound—already a radical departure from the pretentiousness of the self-proclaimed “greats” of the dead 20th-century. Rather, these sonnets are chaste and discreet, as noble in their modesty as they are refined in their intention, a reflection, to be sure, of the poet himself. Their very personality sets them apart, making them memorable. Indeed, this introduction of personality into art is all that Ruskin had hoped for in his critique of classicism. Pleasure and delight, I have learned, are some of the hallmarks of the Ars Poetica Nova. The Tea Garden Sonnets prove that the Nouvelle Poésie is not a simple cesspool of “whatever you want because it’s poetry.” The garish, attention-craving brutes of modernism, with their dime-store pornography, their violence, their comic-book darkness, these are all undone, so simply, so wonderfully… …by a cup of tea forever to be enjoyed! Reply Evan August 6, 2017 “Pleasure and delight” indeed! You have put it perfectly, Joseph! Reply David Hollywood August 6, 2017 Eclectic tastes, and heroes. Thank you. Reply Evan August 7, 2017 Thank you, David. Reply David Watt August 7, 2017 The simple pleasure of tea drinking described beautifully. I particularly enjoyed lines including ‘These leaves then plucked and cast across the world Have all this hidden magic in them curled’ Reply Evan August 7, 2017 Thank you, David. Reply Father Richard Libby August 7, 2017 Mr. Mantyk, congratulations on these wonderful sonnets! I’m particularly impressed with the “Tea Garden” sonnets. I read them and felt as if I’d had the experience myself. Reply Evan August 7, 2017 Thank you, Father Libby! I’m just glad that you and others enjoyed them. Reply Michael Curtis August 8, 2017 The corona’s final line was turned to pleasure. Thank you. Reply Evan August 12, 2017 Thank you, Michael! Reply Sandeep Kumar Mishra August 10, 2017 A Cup of Tea + A Scented Sonnet + A Past Reverie = A Blissful Time Thank you Evan. Reply Evan August 12, 2017 And for your part, the most beautiful equation I have ever seen! Reply James Sale August 15, 2017 As a profound tea addict, with over 20 varieties of tea on my shelves at home, and expecting Americans to love only the coffee (!), this poem is a joy. I love the linking refrains. I love some of the truly beautiful lines – I was only discussing recently on these pages the most melodious line in the English language, and the Tennyson one of ‘immemorial bee hums’ might come second to ‘A soothing oolong and Chrysanthemum, The flavor of a mystic garden’s hum.’ Now that – that is melodious – like the tea (to use synaesthesia). This is a really fun poem. Reply Evan August 17, 2017 Thank you, James! I admit that I did not drink tea or coffee until I married my wife who is a New Zealander, your Common Wealth compatriot, and have been a tea drinker ever since. Reply Joe Spring July 29, 2018 I had the pleasure of reading this in the latest journal, which prompted me to find the online version so I could comment. Tea is marvellous, and I know exactly the “reset” you’ve captured. It brings my 3-year-old from Hyde to Jekyll. Reply Evan Mantyk July 29, 2018 Thank you, Joe! We shall have to meet and have tea some time. Your comment reminds of a Chinese saying “When you take a step back in a conflict, you will find the seas and skies and boundless” (from Zhuan Falun by Master Li Hongzhi: http://en.falundafa.org/eng/zflus.html) Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.