Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> Simms the Gardener: Reconstructing the Gardens at Woodlands >> Page 24

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Page 24

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription at length learns to regard with something of the same affection
which he feels for the children of his loins. In truth, the children
of his thoughts, and hopes, and labors, are every where around him.
The old walks grow natural to his footsteps--the old trees wear the
faces of familiar friends. He loves to linger as he traverses the
daily paths; to rest beside the fountain, or beneath the tree, and
surrender himself to peaceful meditations. It is in this way that the
choice humanities grow up and gather about his heart. It is by this
sort of contemplation that his soul feels the force of that Divine
benediction which is written on the wide face of universal nature:
"peace on earth, and good will to all men!" and higher musings
than these arouse him to loftier if not to lovelier desires. The
growth of the tender plant, the tiny shaft of grass, or the pale blue
flower of the spring time, awakens him to thoughts and fancies,
which, if they were less vague and mysterious, would be less true
to the cravings of his immortal spirit. The progress of the infant
plant and flower carries him away from themselves to their mighty
original, and his mind wanders among mysterious apprehensions of
those yet more wondrous mysteries, the Future and the Eternal!
These musings naturally arise to the thoughts of one who
contemplates, long and earnestly, the fluctuations of the seasons--
the beautiful forms of birth, and the scarcely less beautiful aspect
of decay, in the vegetable nature. It is surely no less wonderful
than beautiful to behold the first shoot, the small green spear of the
infant plant, as it pierces, in April, the cold and heavy clod, which
vainly strives to bar its progress into life and light. The Good
Farmer, is, in some sort, the creator of that plant; and this
conviction is well calculated to fill his mind with religious
musings. To be a Good Farmer, he must, indeed, be something of
a religious man. ("The Good Farmer," pp. 154-155)
Hence, the good farmer and gardener are taught reverence, patience, endurance,
and the meaning of immortality. They are, thus, in the best and highest sense
"religious," and gardening itself becomes a high "art," in that it guides artist an
sensitive viewer to a knowledge of the spiritual.


1 For instance, at the end of his "Sonnet--Friendship," he sums up his
feelings with this planting metaphor:

...Friendship is a seed
Needs tendance; you must keep it free from weed;
Nor if the tree yield sometime bitter fruit,