(Diary Entry for March 19th -- A Thank You Note to Raja, my garden's patron/sponsor, which never got completed or sent. No doubt I was lazing in the sun gawping at the flowers.)
This year I've felt as if I lived in Buddha Jayanti Park, with the abundance and profusion of flowers around here. The Phlox, Calendulas and Snapdragons are each one and a half times the size of normal blooms. It is a garden of enhanced sensory delights, with everything bigger, better and brighter than its everyday self. It’s like 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, or 'Magical Mystery Tour', or some garden Lewis Carroll may have created where a flower could turn around and stretch its limbs luxuriously or even growl if we get too close.
Keats was a great guy for descriptions and I think he must have imbibed some of the stuff that gently assists the imagination. He could sit for hours and stare at a patch of sunlight on a wall, perfectly entranced. This was in Italy, where he went for the sunshine when he was dying of tuberculosis. I learnt all this at Mrs Malathi Verma’s lectures in college.I listened to her with my mouth open I’m sure.
Keats has captured the stupor that arises out of satisfaction. That comes to mind when I roam around a garden which is full of overpowering scents as well as the slight, not unpleasant smell of the first trace of rot that sets in with fulness. 'Ripeness' was an idea that Keats loved. The beauty of excess is one of a kind. He talks of trees whose boughs are bent with the weight of fruit. To watch the profusion of flowers overflowing from pots and boxes, to see stalks that are bent over with the weight of their over ambitious and utterly voluptuous blooms is a delight to be savoured in the same spirit; in the atmosphere of self indulgence.
His 'To Autumn' is all about the beauty of a natural idyll where every growing thing in nature has reached its prime and is just moving past it. The word that comes to mind is 'surfeit'. There is this marvellous sense of having over indulged.The bees themselves in Keats' poem are opiate and drowsed.The repeated cold spells we've had through late February and early March have kept our blooms alive and bursting out of their beds and borders. Had we had normal weather, the plants would have been scorched by an already relentless sun. Funny to think that that is really the reverse of what happens in Keats’ poem, where extended sunlight is a bonus!