Poem a Month – August 2016

As we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of 18th century landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown this month’s poem has a gardening theme.  Although there are several poems which have been written about Brown I have chosen Digging by Edward Thomas.  I’m sure a lot of hard work and digging was required to create Brown’s gardens and I like to think that those gardeners employed to bring his plans to fruition would appreciate this poem.  As a keen gardener myself I love the way Thomas uses descriptions of smell, it’s perfect. – Ali


Today I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the roots of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke’s smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

by Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas was born in 1878.  He wrote all his poetry between 1914, when he wrote his first poem and 1917, when he was killed on Easter Monday, 1917, on the first day of the Arras Offensive. This poem was written in March – April 1915 shortly before he enlisted in July 2015. The poem is featured in Poems for Gardeners edited by Germaine Greer, published by Virago, 2004. To find out more about Edward Thomas visit the Poetry Archive website.

The Capability Brown Festival is a celebration of the extraordinary life, work and legacy of 18th Century landscape architect Capability Brown. It brings together a huge range of events, openings and exhibitions. Visit the Festival website to find out more.
Events include a major series of more than 40 exhibitions by the Embroiderers’ Guild celebrating the works of Capability Brown and the nation’s landscapes. The series of exhibitions will run throughout 2016 and includes work by members of the Derbyshire Branches of the Guild.

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