Vita Sackville-West, today’s featured author, is remembered by many as the lover of Virginia Woolf. Many more people remember her today because of the world-famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent, England, which she and her husband, Harold Nicolson, created after they bought the run-down property in 1930. Sackville-West was also a prolific poet, essayist, novelist. For many years she wrote “In Your Garden,” a weekly column about gardening that appeared in the Observer.
Because Sackville-West was such a prolific author (she even has her own Twitter feed!), I decided to gather a bouquet of lines and write a cento. I may have broken the rules a bit by changing tenses to help lines fit together. These words are italicized. Most of these lines come from her poem “The Garden” or her gardening columns.
The Art of Gardening
Beneath the snowy mountains of the sky,
we are watching daffodils come up in the orchards:
Evidence of life.
In April, the angel of the months, the young love of the year,
the possibilities are really unlimited.
Soon, the morning glory climbs toward the sun,
a pale blue drift,
some magic in this humbler sphere.
Overblown with roses,
I like generosity wherever I find it.
Like recurrent patterns on a scroll,
a vast mauve-and-green cobweb,
quivers with its own lightness and buoyancy.
Wafts of vanilla come to me,
and everywhere bees go racing with the hours,
eternally renewed evidence
of a determination to live.
As daily life accepts the night’s arrest,
Autumn in felted slippers shuffles on, muted yet fiery
In one defiant flame before they go.
But you, oh gardener, poet that you be though unaware,
now use your seeds like words
and make them lilt with color nicely flung,
always looking forward to doing something better than before.
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