Was Marvell having a laugh when he wrote this?
Stumbling on melons as I pass
Ensured in flowers
I fall on grass
– Extract from Marvell’s The Garden, 1681
I used to scrawl extracts from Marvell’s The Garden in travel journals, pondering garden idylls and ignoring allegorical references with a dreamy look in my eyes.
My grandfather George, who founded Newton Orchards with his brother Harold, once referred to our land here in Manjimup as “this other Eden.” He was said to be a literary man, so maybe he read Marvell. He did read Yogananda Paramahansa, which amazed me, but that’s another story.
The reality is this. When you stumble on melons or slide on peacock slop, when the 2L glass jar of perfectly set yoghurt slips through your fingers, you swear, and shout, and stamp your feet like a three-year-old whose bread was cut in squares when he wanted triangles.
You haven’t landed dreamily into a soft, yielding bed of flowers. Forget the poetic gaze into space or inclination to quoth Marvell. You’re p^&*ed off. You kick the melon, despair the smashed yoghurt, yell at the peacock and consider giving it all up. For a moment in time, an easy-care townhouse in a ‘burb with no garden and a supermarket around the block looks good.
Then, you pause for a moment to salvage the melon kicked open in rage, and realise it’s true. Just like the Corsican melon farmer said.
“C’est le gout du soleil.” It’s the taste of the sun.
Damn you Marvell. I mean, Marvell, I still want to roll in the grass with you. *Wipes face of melon juice and grins.