"Ploughed Field" by Caspar David FriedrichFour Poems for Early Spring, by C.B. Anderson The Society April 5, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry 20 Comments . Rededication The sullen days of winter Remain a galling splinter Within my thickened skin, So let the games begin! Though I’m inclined to focus Upon the blooming crocus, The loom of April fills My mind with daffodils. With every spring, an Easter, But will it bring me feast or Famine, as here I stand Examining the land? A blizzard of narcissus Is Christmas to my missus, And as she fares, so I, A mirror to her sky. . . The Order of Bloom in Spring and Attendant Disorders The spring is signaled by advancing light, By stunning clumps of white and purple crocus, And by the way my winter mind must fight To reestablish necessary focus. So here I am, knee-deep in catalogs, Oblivious to any daffodil Whose trumpet may have pierced the vernal fogs Still shrouding unexpected winterkill. With work to do, I search my books for theory On how to fend disaster; meanwhile, tulips Bloom in the garden and, becoming weary Of text, I dream of summertime’s mint juleps. I must be sure to tidy up the border Before the yearly show of allium, For otherwise my doctor may well order Another double dose of Valium. . . The Sky’s the Limit The lotic silver music, of a stream full flush with run-off from a mountainside obliged in spring to shed the winter dream beneath which dormant living things abide, is token of the promise freshened by the steady pelting of the water bead. The fall of rain, like manna from the sky, revives the fundamental tribal need to propagate ancestral lines. You’ll know it’s time to shed your heavy winter boots by how the merging sound of drop and flow awakens urges in your thirsty roots to grope for footing on the softened soil, as often they’ve so ably done. Above the seamless hovering of cloud, a loyal lover awaits with warm unbounded love: the same your father knew, and his before; the same your children will before they die, provided they attend and not ignore the silver music and the giving sky. First published in Harp-Strings Poetry Journal . . In Our Eyes “… if eyes were made for seeing, Then beauty is its own excuse for being….” —Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “The Rhodora” In early spring, before the frost has fled The ground for good, we set aside the plan We spent all winter drawing And pay attention to the flower bed Where sudden flourishes of color span The weeks of vernal thawing. Though minor bulbs deserve an accolade, Their major task is telling us the time Has finally come for sowing The seed we ordered months ago. Our spade And rake are poised to spread manure and lime On soil where we’ll be growing The crops we most rely on to maintain Our health and sense of purpose. Every day, Until we’ve reached the longest, We reap our share of sweat and muscle pain, Aware that Nature’s hand will best repay Those efforts which are strongest. Aesthetic judgments are the perquisites Of having finished necessary chores That justify our being, And when the hour arrives to call it quits, Our contribution to the great outdoors Is beauty worth the seeing. First published in Pulse . . C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. 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CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 20 Responses Margaret Coats April 5, 2021 Liked them all, thank you. Do you have any crops to name that you “most rely on to maintain our health and sense of purpose”? Or by that, do you mean “sweat and muscle pain” and “beauty worth the seeing”? Reply C.B. Anderson April 5, 2021 It is the very growing of crops that satisfies one’s sense of purpose. It doesn’t matter much which ones they are — anything homegrown is likely to be healthful. But if I had to rely on my own garden for all my produce (which was once pretty much how things went), I would certainly grow carrots and kale for their nutritional value. Vegetables are the hardest class of plants to grow, because they are essentially (once) wild plants into which genetic diseases have been bred — you will never see wild broccoli, though there might still be something in the world that resembles wild kale (Brassica alba), from which most of our familiar cole crops (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards etc.) are descended. Difficult to grow, also, because every varmint in the world wants to eat them. I could go on about this for hours, because there is so much detail about how to grow vegetables successfully. Semi-retired from all of that, nowadays I grow succulent treats such as tomatoes, cucumbers and fiber-free snap beans. Sweat, pain and beauty are side-effects that help to make a life worth living and are intimately interconnected with health and purpose. Or so I find. This year, I expect to add Cannabis indica to my current small plot, since it is now legal in Massachusetts. Reply Gail April 5, 2021 USDA zone 8b aka gardener’s paradise! If I accidentally drop a cutting on the ground, it sprouts. (A piece of hyperbole, but very nearly true! ) The gleaners will be harvesting the wild asparagus from the ditches soon. Reply C.B. Anderson April 5, 2021 You, Gail, inhabit a nearly subtropical climate zone where so many amazing things are possible. You can probably grow artichokes, if you wanted to. Would you like to disclose in which part of the world you live? It might be at the tip of Long Island, NY, or it might be in coastal Carolina. Wild asparagus is an ambiguous term. It can mean both common asparagus gone wild and the new shoots of pokeweed (as described by Euell Gibbons in his Stalking the Wild Asparagus. Reply Joe Tessitore April 5, 2021 Speaking of “beauty worth the seeing”, I for one would love to see a photo or two, if you could make that happen. Reply C.B. Anderson April 5, 2021 Tell me, Joe, of what, exactly, would you like to see a photo. A well-managed vegetable garden, an ornamental garden, or what? Tell me, and I will try to oblige, either privately (if you share with me your e-mail address) or publicly on this forum. The only limitation is my own ability to manage the transfer of images from one site to another. That’s not what I do best, but I think I can make something happen. Let me know. Reply Julian D. Woodruff April 6, 2021 Maybe Sally Cook could do a drawing or 2? Reply BRIAN YAPKO April 5, 2021 C.B., I am amazed at the extraordinary skill and wit of your rhymes! In particular, the rhymes of tulips and juleps and then allium and valium have me in stitches. Humor aside, each of these poems is a joy to read — truly “beauty worth the seeing.” Thank you for sharing them. Reply C.B. Anderson April 5, 2021 Thank you, Brian. If you can think of another rhyme for “tulips,” then please let me know. The spring-flowering bulbs augur the coming of summer, but you better believe that a mint julep is not a concoction I would ever actually drink — I’d rather eat my poetic license whole and swallow it dry than ever drink something like that. But just maybe, if I attended the Kentucky Derby, I might change my mind. Reply Joe Tessitore April 5, 2021 Q Tips ? Joseph S. Salemi April 5, 2021 Kip, you just don’t appreciate Bourbon. The poems are a delight, like a giardinera salad. Do you grow basil and parsley? For our kitchen, those are absolute requirements. Julian D. Woodruff April 6, 2021 Blue lips, blue lips, new lips, true lips–these are the kind of thing Hart would have had a field day with. C.B. Anderson April 6, 2021 Joseph, my son-in-law has taught me quite a bit about bourbon in the past year, and I appreciate it more and more as time goes on. And indeed, I always grow sweet basil and a clump of Italian parsley, without which life would not be worth living. Sally Cook April 5, 2021 C.B., you have taken us forward only a few weeks into the fruitful season with your graceful poems. I cannot grow vegetables in the back due to an awful black walnut tree which overshadows all that grows, but this year I’m going to try window boxes in the front. I’m hoping to get a nice beefsteak tomato to grow there. That and those sweet Oh, CB — don’t chew up your poetic license, whatever you do. We don’t want to lose you. Cannot grow edible things in the back because of that overhanging black walnut tree, This year I plan to try growing a nice tomato and some sweet banana peppers in a window box in the front; this will brighten up the summer meals, I think. Have you ever heard of using a mix of colloidal silver in water to get rid of black spot on a peach tree? It is said this will work if the tree ingests it from the soil (don’t know why they worded it that way) (otherwise a tumbler might suffice, with a lime slice on the side.) Thanks again for reminding us of the beauty of plants. Reply C.B. Anderson April 6, 2021 It’s nearly impossible to grow any kind of fruit (tomatoes included) in the shade, Sally, and I would not try to grow a large-vined variety of tomato in a window box — a whiskey barrel at least for such. But there are compact varieties (of cherry tomatoes) that will produce fruit with small root space. For more details on what I know about this, please contact me directly, and I will be happy to impart everything I know about the subject. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant April 5, 2021 C.B., I love how you’ve managed to combine your love of gardening with your passion for poetry to produce an excellent series of poems that exude wit, wonder and lessons in both of your favorite pastimes. Thank you! Reply C.B. Anderson April 6, 2021 I’m not sure I “love” gardening anymore; it’s just what I do, and my body is tired of it, but I do like the results. At least two of these poems were written many years ago when I was at the height of my gardening powers, and I decided that now would be a good time to resurrect them. The wit is something I cannot escape, not even if I wanted to. Reply Julian D. Woodriff April 6, 2021 These are all clever and delightful to read, CB. Your insistent use of enjambment made somehow made me think of slipping and sliding around in the muddy conditions of early spring, but you surely had other intentions. Reply C.B. Anderson April 6, 2021 No, Julian, I think you got it right in your initial thoughts. There’s a reason that spring mud rhymes with life blood. Reply David Watt April 7, 2021 C.B., your amalgam of humor and uncommon rhymes makes for enjoyable reading. You have reminded me that the Aussie slang word ‘missus’ is also utilized in America and Britain. The vegetables we grow here in Canberra backyards are often munched by hungry possums. Therefore, we resort to netting, or just accept a degree of losses. As backyard grown fruit falls prey to cockatoos and possums, netting is even more critical if a decent harvest is sought. No matter the particular challenges faced by gardeners in different locations, the results are generally worth the effort. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.