Monet’s Garden for the poet

The gardens outside the Monet’s Garden exhibit are just as beautiful as the indoor ones, even though they are not modeled on the artist’s vision.  The New York Botanical Garden very cleverly lured visitors out into the heat by scattering large placards bearing French Symbolist poetry around the gardens near the conservatory, tying them into Monet’s milieu.

The poems by Baudelaire, in particular, brought back my angsty teenaged years when I thought Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) was the most sophisticated poetry in the world.  I even attempted to read Baudelaire in French in those days, not very successfully.

While I’m not nearly as attracted by the scent of sex and death those poets exude, there is some lovely imagery which I could not resist posting here.

I love that last line: Snow down white bouquets of perfumed stars.  Is that not exactly what the petals dropping off a white lilac look and smell like?  Gorgeous!

And Rimbaud’s elegant and vivid “carpet of silver filigree, of eyes and tresses.”  My friend Betsy, a rose lover, has decided she needs to add marble terraces to her garden, based on this poem.

And now a blast from my past.  For those who have read my biography, you know that I wrote poetry in college.  One day I took a break from studying to wander through the Princeton University Art Museum.  They had–and still have, as far as I know–on exhibit there a particularly beautiful rendering by Monet of his Japanese bridge with waterlilies.  I became entranced by it and wrote a poem in its honor.  No one has seen this poem in years but I am going to allow you, my faithful readers, the signal honor of reading it here.

Here is the Botanical Garden’s recreation of the bridge, just to put you in the mood:

And here is my poem, written long ago.  Be kind.  I was very young.

Monet’s “Waterlilies”

I have been there so many times;
Walked to the center of the bridge,
The highest point in the arch,
Stared down at the fish
Barely flickering through the stream,
Admired myself and the waterlilies
In the water-mirror
By the slim, cutting willows.

But I could never show you those things
So you could hang them on the wall
And walk back into them.
I could never change the green
From sun to shade
So you could feel it on your arms.

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