Friday, 1 April 2011

So do you take off your shoes or eat blackberries? The solace of poetry

... Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God[de]:
But only s/he who sees, takes off [her] shoes,
The rest sit around it, and pluck blackberries...
From Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The quote above came to me today at the bottom of an email from a friend and it sent me off reading Elizabeth Barratt Browning's poetry on the net. I realised that I have hardly read any Barratt since school and that I do not have a collected version of her poetry, something to treat myself to very soon. It is powerful stuff.
Spingtime is not at all the time to think of the autumn harvest of the hedges filled with the finger-staining dark fruit that are blackberries, bringing sweetness just before the winter. I love the flavour and fragrance of the humble blackberry - though given the choice I would probably still opt for the raspberry.
But the quote in this fragment (really that word seems to be one of the major subthemes to my blog these days) of the poem is actually a judgement on those sitting around gorging ourselves thoughtlessly on late summer fruits. The bramble, like the biblical burning bush, is full of thorns. An invitation, a reminder ... of God's grandeur, of humility, of the possibility that like Moses before us, we too could remove our shoes as we remember we are on holy ground.
I glimpsed some of the immensity and beauty of creation this evening, walking through the wonderful trees, smelling the sweet violets and listening to the wonderful birdsong as the sun persisted in picking out the primroses in the grass. With every step I gave thanks for the burgeoning season that is spring - these early flowers speak of fruit to come. Truly a miracle. God turns not only water into wine but petals into fruit and pollen into honey - earth is surely crammed with heaven!

1 Comment:

janetlees said...

Yes I read the Blackberry comment recently - in a TLS session I think - and wondered the same us you - why not God AND blackberries - the bramble sort I mean not those infernal devices which people use saying 'sent from my blackberry'.