A green thought in a green shade

Since I spent much of yesterday in the garden, tending ripening tomatoes, pulling weeds from between thick clusters of rosemary and thyme, repotting a lavender, and generally messing about, I thought today of Andrew Marvell's gorgeous poem “The Garden.” It's one of a suite of garden or pastoral poems Marvell wrote, lusciously evocative and highly idealized. I don't mind a bit of idealism in these garden idylls. I'd rather bring the poem into the garden than the garden into the poem.

What wondrous life is this I lead;
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide:
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,
While man there walked without a mate:
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises 'twere in one
To live in Paradise alone.