Have you ever seen something that made you instantly recall a line of poetry? I had a few of those moments last week, when I returned to Filoli for a visit. The potted hyacinths were in bloom — I have never EVER seen such beautiful ones. They took my breath away.
And T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” surfaced out of the depths of my memory:
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.”
It was very nice to have the remembered poetry to go along with the color and the scent. (I have to admit, the flowers also made me think of a certain overbearing British matron. “It’s not BUCKET, it’s BOUQUET.”)
Later, coming across a field of daffodils, I naturally thought of Wordsworth:
“Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”
I didn’t see ten thousand, but I saw quite a few. And it was a delightful sensation to walk down the little path, daffodils on my right and my left, before me and behind me too.
“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
That just about captures it.
Any experience is better with a line of poetry to complement it. I’m not sure why that is, exactly, except that connecting a poem with an experience somehow pulls the drawstrings of my life closer together: the strings of past and present, words and images. It’s a great reason to study poetry, so you always have a line or lines to match to what you see around you.
Now if only I could think of a poem about camellias …