cultivating ideas with a blue spade

“The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“Out of the Mist” by Wayne Millett

All Aboard!

Let’s take a little trip.

“Blue Garden” by Abid Khan
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)

“Dreampath” by Violeta Lopiz


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. 

“Bohemian” by Toshio Ebine

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.

by Hiro Isono

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).

“Far Place, Sound of Wind,” by Toshio Ebine

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.

photo by Drew Chial

Yes to momentarily embracing this alternate reality.

“Night is Coming” by Toshio Ebine

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.

22 thoughts on “cultivating ideas with a blue spade

    1. I’m new to Helen Dunmore’s work — found her through poetry, then discovered she also wrote novels, etc.! The images in this post were not from any of her books; I found them myself — they’re all linked to their sources.


  1. “Blue apples, blue grass, blue roses, blue potatoes, a blue paddling pool?” Definitely some place I want to visit! Not sure what it all means, but it’s de a magical poem! And the pictures you chose are gorgeous! I agree with Matt, a blue-tiful post!

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    1. The appeal of this poem is that it’s open to many different interpretations. Dunmore certainly has us thinking . . .


  2. I thought it might be the train ride to heaven, all blues from UP, the sky, that ‘hose-snake’ a little bump in the path threw me, but I re-read & it did offer a soaking, hopefully a cleansing? However it is, I loved it, all those blues, fantastical but making them read for us readers! I love all your pictures, too, Jama, especially “Dreampath”. Thanks!

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  3. I went more literal as I was reading it, imagining a blue mural on the wall in the embankment where they are stuck, and everyone staring at it, wishing they were in the picture instead of in their real life. But your speculations are very convincing, too! Ruth,

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  4. Jama, I love this post….I immediately thought of death. But, I love the other interpretations and ideas in your post and in the comments. So many beautiful paintings to illustrate this poem. I’m happy in this blue garden. I want to add the phrase, “you come too.”

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  5. This poem makes me want to get out blue paint and let it go to these places. Mesmerizing in its wandering, magical. How you have placed all these lovely blue images enriches the journey.

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  6. Yes, the children changing to “azure” blue, a foretelling in this surreal perhaps end of life blue land, though the poem ends with “as our train got going.” So I guess the train is still on the track… lots of layers there. I love all the blue art images especially “Dreampath,” the blue sky in the beach image on top, and Drew Chial’s luscious blue rose—thanks for this blue escape Jama!

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