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Featured Poem: The Little Garden by Amy Lowell

Written by Rachael Norris, 15th July 2019

This week's Featured Poem is 'The Little Garden' by Amy Lowell, chosen by Amanda Brown, The Reader's Head of Developing Shared Reading Communities.

I have read this to myself a few times and each time, I’ve felt as though I’ve stepped outdoors and felt the breeze on my cheeks.

I’m a bit perplexed to find ‘a little garden’ and 'a bleak hillside' in the same line – in the same place, too.  Where is this?  And what season is it? 

Am I squinting at the 'heavy, dazzling mountain snow,' or remembering it?  I do remember it, though, reading this.

I can see, in my mind’s eye, holiday snapshots from my past, the searing brilliance of sun on snow.  But here, 'the single rose bush' pulls me up short.  It feels like a scene shift.  I need to ponder, ‘all denied of nature’s tender ministries’ and somehow get to grips with that, before I’m flung back again by 'But no, -' This makes me pause again, and just as well, because now, suddenly, I’m in the garden.

I want to linger over 'wonder-working faith' but am carried forward to the 'starry-eyed' flowers. 

All at once, I’m surrounded by the sights and sounds and scents of summer!  It’s like being in a garden, wandering about, my attention turning to a flower, now a butterfly, now the sky. 

And what about the last line?  That exclamation mark – an acknowledgement of something that matters?  What place do ‘little’ and ‘great’ have here?

The Little Garden

A little garden on a bleak hillside
Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
Lies far into the spring. The sun's pale glow
Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
About the single rose bush. All denied
Of nature's tender ministries. But no, —
For wonder-working faith has made it blow
With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
Here four o'clocks, to the passionate night above
Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
A little garden, loved with a great love!

by Amy Lowell

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?


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