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Featured Poem: The Deserted Garden by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 8th April 2013

This week's Featured Poem is the choice of current Communications Intern Stef Tuttle, who explores how open spaces visited and remembered can recall nostalgic memories through the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning...

Nostalgia is a funny thing, isn’t it? A longing for the memory of something that, in its reality, was probably nothing like the way we remember the thing.

I’m the eldest of three girls, and my sisters and I spent a lot of time last week reminiscing about our childhood, and the memories we share (or sort of share) of the parks and streams that seemed like enchanted forests when we were younger.

‘But we didn’t fall in, you pushed me in and fell in after me!’ one sister chides me, when I (apparently wrongly) recall one afternoon when we went exploring while visiting our Nan. I was convinced the scene had played out in a totally different way. To my mind we’d been trying to catch tadpoles in a jar, and had simply fallen in the water. My sister’s memory was one quite different to my own, and yet it was a thing we shared.

Recently we went back to my Nan’s home in Bristol where so many memories were created. We spent hours it seemed (although really I think my mind is already turning this memory fictitious) searching for this one hideout that we, all three of us, remembered so vividly. When we finally found it, something was missing. This small patch of land with more weeds than the beautiful flowers I remembered, had once seemed so much bigger, full of so much promise!

And still, I am not disheartened, this is what fiction does. It takes the mundane and every day, and sees the worth in it.

And after all, a few years from now, all of us in Liverpool will be saying ‘Remember that Spring when it snowed the whole way through!’

From The Deserted Garden

I mind me in the days departed,
How often underneath the sun
With childish bounds I used to run
To a garden long deserted.

The beds and walks were vanished quite;
And wheresoe'er had struck the spade,
The greenest grasses Nature laid
To sanctify her right.

I called the place my wilderness,
For no one entered there but I;
The sheep looked in, the grass to espy,
And passed it ne'ertheless.

The trees were interwoven wild,
And spread their boughs enough about
To keep both sheep and shepherd out,
But not a happy child.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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