Eric v.d. Luft

The Philosophy of Gardens

It could be practical, a veggie plot;
	Or frivolous, with wild or cultured blooms;
Serene, with pebbles raked for patterned thought;
	Or gaudy spread-out lawns where one presumes
To hide in bushes, copulate, fly kites,
	Do obscene dances, play croquet, or sing,
		Appreciate the statuary schlock,
The topiary dreck, the fairy ring,
	Watch birds, get drunk, get high, get into fights,
		Or recreate yourself and take a walk.

It could be anything you want or need,
	From many acres to a window box,
From puffy flash to just a place to read,
	An elegant oasis, random rocks
Or stately stones, rococo ornaments
	Or Spartan nothingness - it's as you wish
		From Longwood or Versailles to just one plant,
From desert wilderness to ponds of fish.
	The pathos of Gethsemane presents
		The bathos of a Speaker's Corner rant.

You may devise whatever you prefer
	From simple patch to overgrown estate.
You may be dilettante or connoisseur
	Of Japanese austere or French ornate
Or German natural or English grand.
	How does your garden grow? With silver bells?
		And pretty smells? And belladonnic death?
And palisaded paths? And poisoned wells?
	Or healthful herbs across prolific land
		For stolid, solid meditative breath?

You sow whatever you decide. You sow
	To grow your individuality.
Unique yourself, your truth is what you know,
	Yet truth is far from subjectivity.
You don't create your truth; it's infinite,
	Exuding from Platonic firmament.
		Though it be hidden, seeking it is wise,
To be revealed, discovered, permanent.
	Your truth is real, your beauty counterfeit.
		Your being is your beauty but it dies.

Some truth is beautiful and long desired,
	More often ugly and unwelcome, but
Truth still is truth, required, and much admired.
	Substantial truth will not be undercut.
Some ugliness is beautiful - agreed.
	All truth is strong, though ugly it may be.
		Unwelcome still its core bears looking at.
In ugly truth what beauty we might see!
	Beauty is lies, lies beauty - but you need
		To know and contemplate much more than that.

Eric v.d. Luft, Ph.D., M.L.S., owns Gegensatz Press; was Curator of Historical Collections at Upstate Medical University from 1987 to 2006; has taught at Villanova University, Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, and the College of Saint Rose; is the author, editor, or translator of over 670 publications; and is listed in Who’s Who in America.