“Come Down to Kew in Lilac Time”

by chuckofish

It’s not lilac time, but Kew is still beautiful. My DH just returned from a research trip to the National Archives at Kew in London and while he was there, he had the chance to go through the beautiful gardens where he took many a photo. His trip there put me in mind of our mother, who had an abiding (alas, unfulfilled) desire to go to Kew Gardens, inspired by a poem, which I believe was Alfred Noyes’s “The Barrel Organ.” The poem is long, so I will not include the whole thing, but here’s part of it punctuated with pictures of Kew (some taken by my DH).

There’s a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street
    In the City as the sun sinks low;
And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
    And fulfilled it with the sunset glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain
    That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light;
And they’ve given it a glory and a part to play again
    In the Symphony that rules the day and night.
And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
    And fulfilled it with the sunset glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain
    That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light;
And they’ve given it a glory and a part to play again
    In the Symphony that rules the day and night.2014-07-28 10.47.31
The cherry-trees are seas of bloom and soft perfume and sweet perfume,
    The cherry-trees are seas of bloom (and oh, so near to London!)
And there they say, when dawn is high and all the world’s a blaze of sky
    The cuckoo, though he’s very shy, will sing a song for London.
Kew
Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
   Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
   Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
The Dorian nightingale is rare and yet they say you’ll hear him there
    At Kew, at Kew in lilac-time (and oh, so near to London!)
The linnet and the throstle, too, and after dark the long halloo
    And golden-eyed tu-whit, tu-whoo, of owls that ogle London.
Kew-Gardens
There’s a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street
    In the City as the sun sinks glittering and slow;
And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
And enriched it with the harmonies that make a song complete
In the deeper heavens of music where the night and morning meet,
    As it dies into the sunset-glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain
    That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light,
And they’ve given it a glory and a part to play again
    In the Symphony that rules the day and night.
2014-07-28 12.38.31
            And there, as the music changes,
                  The song runs round again.
             Once more it turns and ranges
                  Through all its joy and pain,
             Dissects the common carnival
                  Of passions and regrets;
             And the wheeling world remembers all
                  The wheeling song forgets.
             Once more La Traviata sighs
                  Another sadder song:
             Once more II Trovatore cries
                  A tale of deeper wrong;
             Once more the knights to battle go
                  With sword and shield and lance
             Till once, once more, the shattered foe
                  Has whirled into—a dance!
Come down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac time;
    Come down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
And you shall wander hand and hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
    Come down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!

Mother never got to Kew (and for that matter, neither have I), but I know she would have loved it. She did love a garden! Take some time this busy weekend to enjoy your garden or take a walk somewhere beautiful, and, if you are so inclined, read the whole poem,  “The Barrel Organ”.

Have a great weekend! [Sorry about the horrible tiny font on the poem. Try as I might (and I did to the point of wanting to smash my computer), I could not get this to work]