‘Gone to the fields to be lovely’

Over the summer break we travelled to New Zealand. Amidst the extraordinary beauty of the place, the roadside fields of Russell Lupins were so lovely. Often backdropped by a vista of snowcapped mountains, they had a way of bringing majesty into more intimate reach.

Just yesterday, a dear friend sent me some poetry, words by the American poet Lynn Ungar. As I understand, the camas lilies Ungar describes are a wild flower native to her part of the world. No matter, the bidding of the fields is the same.

Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the native ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through blooming.”

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

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