Hilda Doolittle





Sheltered Garden

I have had enough.  
I gasp for breath.  
 
Every way ends, every road,   
every foot-path leads at last   
to the hill-crest —  
then you retrace your steps,  
or find the same slope on the other side,   
precipitate.  
 
I have had enough —  
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,   
herbs, sweet-cress.  
 
O for some sharp swish of a branch —   
there is no scent of resin  
in this place,  
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,   
aromatic, astringent —  
only border on border of scented pinks.
    
Have you seen fruit under cover  
that wanted light —  
pears wadded in cloth,  
protected from the frost,  
melons, almost ripe,  
smothered in straw?  
 
Why not let the pears cling  
to the empty branch?  
All your coaxing will only make  
a bitter fruit --  
let them cling, ripen of themselves,  
test their own worth,  
nipped, shrivelled by the frost,  
to fall at last but fair  
with a russet coat.  
 
Or the melon — 
let it bleach yellow  
in the winter light,  
even tart to the taste —  
it is better to taste of frost —  
the exquisite frost —  
than of wadding and of dead grass.
 
For this beauty,  
beauty without strength,  
chokes out life.  
I want wind to break,  
scatter these pink-stalks,  
snap off their spiced heads,  
fling them about with dead leaves —   
spread the paths with twigs,  
limbs broken off,  
trail great pine branches,  
hurled from some far wood  
right across the melon-patch,  
break pear and quince —  
leave half-trees, torn, twisted  
but showing the fight was valiant.  
 
O to blot out this garden  
to forget, to find a new beauty  
in some terrible  
wind-tortured place.