On a Piece of Tapestry
Hold high the woof, dear friends, that we may see
The cunning mixture of its colours rare.
Nothing in nature purposely is fair, –
Her mingled beauties never quite agree;
But here all vivid dyes that garish be,
To that tint mellowed which the sense will bear,
Glow, and not wound the eye that, resting there,
Lingers to feed its gentle ecstasy.
Crimson and purple and all hues of wine,
Saffron and russet, brown and sober green
Are rich the shadowy depths of blue between;
While silver threads with golden intertwine,
To catch the glimmer of a fickle sheen, –
All the long labor of some captive queen.
George Santayana’s celebration of the art and history of tapestry could be a metaphor for the English garden – and the enthusiasm of all its amateur designers. Despite all the rain, or because of it more like, there has been another cunning mixture of colour and texture in the village gardens this summer, with none of them quite turning out as intended, but succumbing to nature’s chaotic whimsy. There are compensations for rain.