In a continuation of our celebration of gardens this August, our book of the month is Garden Poems from the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series. This anthology has been selected and edited by John Hollander and was first published in 1996. The poems in this collection glorify the art of the garden and man’s need to create a private paradise. 

Garden Poems Cover

The collection begins with a foreword from John Hollander which discusses the relationship between the garden and poetry along with some of the decisions he made when putting this anthology together. The book is then structured into different sections each relating to a different garden theme: starting with ‘Paradises’, ‘Gardens of Love’ and ‘Gardens of the Mind’ and continuing through until the final section ‘A Garden of Gardens’. Each section starts with a small quotation to set the tone for the theme, for example the start of ‘Paradises’ has a passage from Genesis which describes the Lord God planting the Garden of Eden.

One of the reasons we were so pleased to pick this book as our book of the month is that it contains the work of so many poets who have been memorialised or buried in Westminster Abbey. Poets’ Corner is one of the best known parts of the Abbey and although not originally designated as a burial place for writers, it has gradually become so, starting with the burial of Geoffrey Chaucer. Not all of the writers commemorated in Poets’ Corner are buried there and when they have been laid to rest elsewhere it will often state that place on the memorial stone or tablet. Within Garden Poems there are poems from Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Robert Browning, all of whom are buried in the Abbey. This is alongside the work of D.H. Lawrence, William Blake, John Keats, Edmund Spenser, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare who are all memorialised on stones, tablets or windows.

If you would like to be inspired by this wonderful collection of poetry, and become immersed in the world of the garden, then you can purchase the book by clicking here