I’ll let this incredible excerpt from Christopher Smart’s (1722-1771) Jubliate Agno (see full text at pseudopodium.com) speak for its own crazy, fabulous, hallucinatory self. He wrote this weird, sprawling, obsessive religious poem at least partly while in an insane asylum, locked up for his supposed religious mania. I think he must have written this part in there, in a wistful remembrance of the beauty of the natural world outside his confinement. Here’s to flowers, in the bottle and out of it!
FROM JUBILATE AGNO:
For the doubling of flowers is the improvement of the gardners talent.
For the flowers are great blessings.
For the Lord made a Nosegay in the meadow with his disciples and preached upon the lily.
For the angels of God took it out of his hand and carried it to the Height.
For a man cannot have publick spirit, who is void of private benevolence.
For there is no Height in which there are not flowers.
For flowers have great virtues for all the senses.
For the flower glorifies God and the root parries the adversary.
For the flowers have their angels even the words of God's Creation.
For the warp and woof of flowers are worked by perpetual moving spirits.
For flowers are good both for the living and the dead.
For there is a language of flowers.
For there is a sound reasoning upon all flowers.
For elegant phrases are nothing but flowers.
For flowers are peculiarly the poetry of Christ.
For flowers are medicinal.
For flowers are musical in ocular harmony.
For the right names of flowers are yet in heaven. God make gard'ners better nomenclators.
For the Poorman's nosegay is an introduction to a Prince.
(From Fragment B, 2)
Amazing! I sometimes wonder, however, about the significance of that strangely out-of place line which at face value has nothing to do with flowers: “For a man cannot have publick spirit, who is void of private benevolence.” Anyone have any idea why that might be there?
I bet you were not aware before that “the warp and woof of flowers are worked by perpetual moving spirits.” Now you are, and I’m sure you’re the better for it ; ).
REMINDER: Today and early tomorrow are the last days to enter my Book and Fragrance giveaway
Claude Vignon’s “Flora”, the portrait of Smart, and Waterhouse’s “Flora and the Zephyrs” all courtesy of Wikimedia Commons