“The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Let’s take a little trip.
THE BLUE GARDEN by Helen Dunmore 'Doesn't it look peaceful?' someone said as our train halted on the embankment and there was nothing to do but stare at the blue garden. Blue roses slowly opened, blue apples glistened beneath the spreading peacock of leaves. The fountain spat jets of pure Prussian the decking was made with fingers of midnight the grass was as blue as Kentucky. Even the children playing in their ultramarine paddling pool were touched by a cobalt Midas who had changed their skin from the warm colours of earth to the azure of heaven. 'Don't they look happy?' someone said, as the train manager apologised for the inconvenience caused to our journey, and yes, they looked happy. Didn't we wish we were in the blue garden soaked in the spray of the hose-snake, didn't we wish we could dig in the indigo earth for sky-coloured potatoes. didn't we wish our journey was over and we were free to race down the embankment and be caught up in the blue, like those children who shrank to dots of cerulean as our train got going. ~ from Glad of These Times (Bloodaxe, 2014)
This poem is just right for those of us who like to revel in the imaginary, visionary blues. It’s fun to interpret, and it’s intriguing food for thought.
On the surface, the poem reads like a fairy tale, not unlike The Polar Express, where a train serves as a conduit between reality and fantasy. Perhaps we’ve been given a ticket to nirvana.
The blue garden is described as peaceful, idyllic, beautiful and desirable, something to definitely “wish” for — then our journeys would be over and we would be free. Sounds kind of Buddhist to me.
Are we talking about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before their fall from grace? Then the blue garden is earthly paradise. But does the “hose-snake” reference the serpent? Uh-oh.
Or is the blue garden heaven, the train ride symbolizing the journey of life? The poem does mention how the children’s skin changed “from the warm colours of earth/to the azure of heaven.” And then there’s the digging into “the indigo earth/for sky-coloured potatoes” — another contrast between earth (mortal life) and sky (divinity).
You know, maybe the blue garden is simply a depiction of death — not something to be feared or dreaded — but a desirable destination devoid of pain, suffering, and life’s many burdens.
The blue garden could simply represent our dreams, a subconscious desire to return to a state of purity and innocence, where all things are possible.
In any case, the images in the poem are lovely in a surreal kind of way. Blue apples, blue grass, blue roses, blue potatoes, a blue paddling pool? I’m all in.
Yes to momentarily embracing this alternate reality.
What do you make of this poem?
Lovely and talented Carol Wilcox is hosting the Roundup at Carol’s Corner. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a lovely weekend!
*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.