"Landscape Architecture" and two more poems
The source materials for these works are the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903).
I. Difference from Garden
Subtract first the view.
A garden depends on enclosure—
garden, girdle, and girth
from the same root.
In the riverside park
there is now a public garden.
Plant and trim hedge
by rule and conventions—
separated by chain
link and rose bush.
matters horticultural, botanical
and on a small scale decorative.
show neglect. Park
something to grow into.
essence of gardening
having been withdrawal.
Strips scenery from scene to consider only ground
a means to rule out view. Above garden, then tree.
I feel a separation.
Scape from the same root
and same significance with ship,
e.g. in friendship.
A garden is coveted. Each plot
is numbered and gated. Many times
a substantial vine limits
how much I can see. A very specific rose
is pulled through the fence.
Not at all landscape but only elements,
incidents, and features of the materials
At my back
there is a park.
A wide path bending
around open center,
not following the curve
of the river, reeds
six feet and higher.
Look up. Consider
how branches reach
in multitudes. Consider horizon.
III. Thereby, design.
there was placed a bend
and where wandering
might export us. Observe
the wind working a very specific
grouping of trees. A duck
waddles past. The scent of rose
somewhere, yet scenery acts
in the emotional nature.
A certain sight is given. Trees
strike the city from the sky.
Autobiographical Passage: Wanderings
‘I can see that my pleasure began to be affected by
conditions of scenery at an early age,’
Try conditions of sight. I put my gaze to the ground. I
remember the pine needles and pinching them between my
fingers. While over my head a muted gray/green persists,
the few needles that fell cluster. There is a pattern to the
falling and the slow stack built by the breeze. The needles
then, since brittle, would break. I held things in my hands
‘,—long before it could have been suspected by
others from anything that I said and before I began
to mentally connect the cause and effect of
enjoyment in it’
although, knowing how much I spoke I suspect that
speaking of this love for the feeling of the breaking would
have been voiced but no one thought enough of it to repeat
it back to me so I could claim it as memory
‘….my parents thought well to let me wander as
few parents are willing their child should’
though permission was let within a range. I’d stake the
same ground over and over, stay in sight, but the eye could
wander. I’d stay huddled under that same pine grove,
protected from the elements enough to poke and prod the
earth and stain my shins with sap and soil. Restless, yes,
enough to shift gaze from pine to chickadee, but the range
of the world was not yet within range of the senses.
one) as a
by way of addition
felt over time
‘…from special attention…’
To fix is to firm.
We specialize and
and hone in
on what gaze delivers.
An evergreen provides consistency.
The grass, however,
to gray as seasons
shift and sieve
Attention is a form
(someone said this,
and I am with her)
with fresh force
‘…for many years to a particular field…’
and field giving
‘of observation and reflection…’
this ground is open.
leaves become some
line directing my gaze,
and the horizon
a lens formed
on a given gray day
vetting me valuable
solace, silence, and sentences
‘…giving counsel about it…’
I take this
and bring it
to a table.