Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Glory of the Garden

My garden - August 2007

I spent some happy hours at the National Trust yesterday buried deep in the archive of Bateman's, the house Rudyard Kipling bought to escape the prying eyes of his adoring fans. In addition to copies of some delightful letters he wrote to his children, I found the following lovely poem inspired by the garden at Bateman's in 1911. Whilst it evokes a time now long gone, there's also plenty of relevance for today. Judith also has a wonderful personal tale from 1911 related to this poem that you simply must check out for yourself.

The Glory of the Garden
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You find the tool- and potting sheds which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

And there you'll see the gardeners, the men and 'prentice boys,
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made,
By singing:- 'Oh how beautiful!' and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives,
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees,
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray,
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

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