For aromatic oils in herbs and shrubs Let thanks rise to the gods, from whence they fell When one but holds the leaves and gently rubs There issues forth a mystic, fragrant smell The living plants will ornament A tended garden plot The plants will then provide yet further gifts For sprigs of these ingredients When added to the cooking pot The taste uplifts
Hellenic folk in golden ages old These perfumes of the plants sought to explain With stories down the generations told Of how such shrubs some pretty nymph contain How when Apollo yearned to kiss Sweet Daphne, she, forlorn With all speed did attempt to run away Then saving metamorphosis The pretty maiden did transform To odorous bay
O Sage! O Thyme! O Rosemary! I praise Your power to boost our health, our pain to ease Our memory to strengthen, moods to raise Our sense of sight and smell and taste to please It must have been when we first burnt Dry incense, or with mint We first less pleasant tastes and smells disguised That we, now that at last we’d learnt To add a subtle herbal hint Were civilised
O Effortless Discoverer! O Wine! Two-Things-at-Once! Dark Sunshine! Old-but-Young! Bestir to tripping dance the Muse of Rhyme Great Uninhibitor, loosen her tongue Send forth your shelt’ring leaves over my mind Embrace with dappled shade the grapes of thought Protect them from the light of Trying-to-Find Lest nude in Reason’s burning glare they’re caught For season after season we entrust This treasure to the cave of rustic stone As silently the ruby liquid dreams Long slumb’ring in the cellar’s dark and dust What secret mysteries to you were shown By under-dwelling nymphs of chthonic streams? O gen’rous partner in the poet’s art Now set the pen in flight, and help me start!
O soft enchantress of the candle glow, With gentle, caring fingertips caress Our eyelids, with a stroke soothing and slow Dissolve our thoughts in sweet forgetfulness Thou angel of the cup, kind Chamomile, Thy golden tisane, warming, wets the lip We feel the face relax into a smile Then raise the cup and take another sip But how’s the mixture made? First fill the pot And heat the water till the bubbles roar Then add your spoon of flowers and let steep Until the liquid’s neither cool nor hot Now take your chosen cup and carefully pour The potion, and partake before you sleep. While drinking, say aloud or read this spell, Which calms you and by calming keeps you well.
That famous field where nodding poppies sway In sunlit grass, where Souls of all the good Spend sweet Eternity in dance and play And with the gods, take Beauty as their food Upon the isle across the sea That circles all the mortal world With misty waters like a castle moat – How like must that famed meadow be To these fair fields where late I’ve strolled These hills and lanes, these woods, this very spot!
Was it vain pomp or blind naïveté That made the folk of ancient Egypt style Their image of divine Eternity Upon their earthly land astride the Nile? Where they might hunt in starry creeks Beside the starry waterway Or find in starry gardens sweet, cool shade? Or likewise made the clan of Greeks Use Grecian fields where grasses sway As models for their paradisal glade?
But no, let neither supposition stand I say, that it was rather that they paid The greatest compliment to their dear land When seeing Beauty there, “Divine!” they said And so to English Summer Time Such compliment I wish to pay As will the praise of those old pagans match The heaven forming in my mind The isle to which I’ll cross one day Has village greens and homes with roofs of thatch.
What’s Freyja’s meadow Folkvang after all Where valkyries take half the great and best If not the field with rushes growing tall Where Hathor greets arrivals in the West? And what’s that place where Arthur dwells Where all of Nature’s fruitful gifts The generous soil untended freely yields – That apple isle, which by their spells Nine sisters shroud in faery mists – What’s Avalon if not the Elysian Fields?
O fine, faff-free and labour-saving key That lets me lock and unlock, with one press, The car remotely and most easily For you my heart now fills with thankfulness Let’s say it’s raining and one stands With luggage in both hands It’s been a busy day and one is tired How glad one feels to then recall A single button press is all That is required!
Hephaestus for the gods with rarest skill Did many a shining bronze device design Some tool that leapt to action at their will Performing tasks befitting lives divine: Their gold cars pulled by brazen steed Through air at such a speed As lighting that precedes the thunder’s rumble We feel ourselves to be their kin When gracefully we enter in Without a fumble
So unimpeded in the car I climb And like a king upon a throne I sit And cruise the country lanes in state sublime Like Bacchus in his magic vine-filled ship And as my homeward way I wend I know at journey’s end There waits for me a happy circumstance: I’ll loose the safety belt and out I’ll get and walk away without A backwards glance.