Down the dark wood, the silver
Tramples the fern with hoof of ivory,
But leaves no mark; his delicate, pale horn
Curves silver by the blossoming apple tree.
Silent he moves, nipping the violets
That star the quiet orchard blue and white,
No sound evokes the echo when he lets
His breast sink softly on the slope of night.
Child of old legend, I have
know him well,
Who walks May meadows when the moon is clear,
Though it be fatal to attest his spell,
The heart finds nothing else on earth as dear.
Inconsequential all the truths of day
To one who meets the unicorn in May!
Spring was a joyous
season for Taber. She reveled in the new life springing forth all around her -the
blossoming trees and flowers, the birdsong. Perhaps her greatest joy was to roam the
garden and the woods and fields around Stillmeadow, her beloved dogs by her side, drinking
in all the loveliness around her, to pause and to dream..We all need to dream.
May is a month for dreaming. The rich fulfillment of
summer is not yet come, and the stern reality of winter is one with all time past. Winter,
I think, has the frosty visage of a Puritan, and has no traffic with light-mindedness, And
summer is like a Greek goddess, templed in green and robed in moon-silver, but she carries
in her hand the dark secret seed of sorrow, for she forecasts beauty that must die.
But May is enchantment without
shadow, May is the sweetness of love and the mystery of blossoming. And in May the faerie
folk come back to our New England hills from the lands beyond the sunset. For they like
My unicorn stamps his silver hoofs on the massed wild violets in the light of the May
moon, and the glossy heart shaped leaves bend as he passes. He crops the dark-purple and
blue-and-white violets, and his polished silver horn lifts the delicate rosy bells of the
wild bush honeysuckle as he moves up the hill. To look on the fatal beauty of the unicorn
is to die, according to legends, but some folk look and live to tell of it, or how would
we know what the unicorn looks like?
|May is like lyric poetry, and is the time to
read it, preferably aloud to someone you love. Poetry ought to be read aloud anyway,
because the sound of the words is music. Like the music of Yeats:
arise and go now, and go to Innesfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade."
It is good for us, I think, to
keep as much joy in life as we can. We busy ourselves with so many things that are not of
the heart and spirit. We worry about money, we agonize over the terrible state of the
world, we fret at household duties or business minutiae, we work, we argue, we squander
our strength in a million ways.
And all the time the wonder of life is around us, the ecstasy of breathing air ravished by
apple blossoms, of walking on fern-cool driftways, of listening to young leaves moving in
the moonlight, and of seeing the twilight stars in the violet bowl of the sky. There is
joy enough for one spring day to furnish forth the world, if we but knew it.
On the warm, moon-clear May nights we like to sit out in the Quiet Garden. I
call it a Quiet Garden, because it is filled with quiet old-fashioned flowers and herbs -
a place to be tranquil in. In one corner, the old crooked apple tree is drifted with the
white miracle of the apple blossoms. The low white picket fence which encloses the small
flagged area is half hidden by the young green of the rambler roses. The herbs are up; the
lavender came through the bitter winter safely
This is a spring
garden, blue and white with accents of pale pink; it is small and simple as gardens go,
the kind any woman could have on the smallest city lot. And how lovely it is. Tall
ivory-white tulips, blue-lavender tulips, white narcissus, blue grape hyacinths, white and
blue hyacinths, and white and lavender iris bloom there in spring. There are the gray-blue
violets called Confederate violets in Virginia. There are rosy cups of primroses, very
early to blossom; and by the time the late iris is gone, the pink ramblers are coming.
The picket fence was
supposed to protect the fragile stalks of tulips and narcissus from the dogs, but that was
before we had Maeve. I don't know just how high she can jump, but I know it breaks all
high-jump records. She clears anything around Stillmeadow in those long lovely leaps. We
try to persuade her that Irish-setter red is beautiful against white tulips, but not mixed
right in together.
We made the mistake of
planting grass between the gray-rose flagstones when we began the Quiet Garden. Grass
grows too fast, too thick, and mowing the stones is impossible. so we are gradually
replacing grass with lemon thyme, which smells good when you walk on it, and never, never
On these clear, still,
spring nights the sound of the planes going over comes with sudden emphasis. when I look
up, the plane seems to be like a ship sailing through the stars. I imagine the people in
every one that passes. There they go, travelers in the sky, bound for mysterious
destinations. In their separate worlds they live and move and have their being, and when
they go over this green valley, they do not even know that we exist.
This is a humbling
thought. On our forty-acres-more-or-less we lead our intricate busy lives, and yet how
small are our concerns viewed from the night sky above! Is it, then, so important to fret
over window washing, furniture waxing, floor scrubbing? We ought to spend more time, I
think, opening our heart to the beauty of the world, especially in May. Just looking and
feeling and smelling the brave sweet fragrances of spring.
May in New England
is so close to Heaven that I wonder how the early preachers managed to keep the eyes of
their people turned to the future life. Nobody could help being dazzled by the beauty of
this world if he rode down a Connecticut country highway in the soft sweet light of a May
morning. heaven enough for me, at any rate; I wish everybody could see it
The fruit trees have a
breathless loveliness. The crabapple tree has starry, snowy blossoms and smells delicious.
The bees work there, and a smooth dark catbird sits on the topmost bough. There is the
pink apple tree down the meadow. Jill's little sour cherry is a mere corsage compared to
the old trees - some Greek goddess should be wearing it.
As if all this weren't enough, the tulips are running out, since we haven't planted new
bulbs in a number of years. But the pale gold and white and red and mauve are just as
pretty, I think, in the smaller versions. In an old bubble-glass bowl they look lovely.
The primroses have spread, and
so have the violets. The primroses are red with bright yellow centers, or pale creamy
yellow with gold hearts. The little clusters make the best bouquets; miniature doll
pitchers are just right for them, or small antique bottles - which, I suppose, were pill
bottles once. My favorite violets are pearl white with blue centers. Massed in a small
creamer, they are just as delicate as the primroses are vigorous.
Jill planted a bevy of
Johnny-jump-ups and put in pansies. she had considerable help from the spaniels, but
managed to save part of a bed by covering it over with wire fencing. Tigger loves to roll
in a freshly planted flower bed, and among the vegetables too. Esme is chasing the first
white butterflies of the season.
The white lilacs are the
sweetest, but the purple have a thicker cluster. We have two French lilacs; one is a true
blue, named President Lincoln, and is wonderfully fragrant.
All through the country you
see old lilac clumps:
"A house once stood here, many years ago,
For there are tall old lilacs in a row,
And apple trees that mist the air in spring
With a pink blossoming.
By a green rosebush, you may mark the garden bed.
These are her memories, that passers-by may know
A house once stood here, many years ago."
The white light of the moon falls on the blossoming fruit trees, on the
sleeping meadows, on the far dark of the hills. All's well at Stillmeadow in the lovely
When I am wakeful, I
like to listen to the stillness of the hours after midnight. The very wings of peace fold
over our valley. I can feel how good the world is, and how un-natural it is for mankind to
be so ridden with with fear and hate. We are all born into the same world, we breath the
same air, that miraculous envelope wrapped round our small planet, we are nourished on the
same fare of food and water, and we are one in death at the end.
Seeing this is so, we
are communally bound together. We are brothers, whether we like it or not! And every time
we invent a nice new buzz bomb or a jet rocket, it is our own whom we prepare to destroy.
The moon is wiser, for
she sheds equal light over the hills of Judea and the silvered meadows outside my New
From The Book of
take a moment to View and Sign my Guestbook
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page One / Gladys Taber: Page Two
Click arrow for drop-down menu. Select page and
Webpage design by Susan Stanley
I created the title
and matching rose graphics especially for this site.
Please do not take.
Copyright © 1997, 1998. Susan Stanley.