Nothing Gold Can Stay: The end of our “Poems in the Garden” trail

October 1, 2020

This summer we launched a poetry trail, to celebrate Great British Nature with some of the greatest British poetry! We chose a selection of classic and modern poems by beloved English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish poets, and positioned them around our acre of gardens for guests and visitors to peruse at their leisure.


The trail ended at the end of September, but we are delighted to share the eleven chosen poems here.

1. From Maud (Part I) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892) 

Come into the garden, Maud,

 For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
 I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
 And the musk of the rose is blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,
 And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
 In a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
 To faint in his light, and to die.

All night have the roses heard
 The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d
 To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
 And a hush with the setting moon.

I said to the lily, “There is but one
 With whom she has heart to be gay.
When will the dancers leave her alone?
 She is weary of dance and play.”
Now half to the setting moon are gone,
 And half to the rising day;
Low on the sand and loud on the stone
 The last wheel echoes away.

I said to the rose, “The brief night goes
 In babble and revel and wine.
O young lord-lover, what sighs are those,
 For one that will never be thine?
But mine, but mine,” so I sware to the rose,
 ”For ever and ever, mine.”

And the soul of the rose went into my blood,
 As the music clash’d in the hall;
And long by the garden lake I stood,
 For I heard your rivulet fall
From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,
 Our wood, that is dearer than all;

From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
 That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewel-print of your feet
 In violets blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
 And the valleys of Paradise.

The slender acacia would not shake
 One long milk-bloom on the tree;
The white lake-blossom fell into the lake
 As the pimpernel dozed on the lea;
But the rose was awake all night for your sake,
 Knowing your promise to me;
The lilies and roses were all awake,
 They sigh’d for the dawn and thee.

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
 Come hither, the dances are done,
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
 Queen lily and rose in one;
Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
 To the flowers, and be their sun.

There has fallen a splendid tear
 From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
 She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
 And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”
 And the lily whispers, “I wait.”

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
 Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
 Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
 Had I lain for a century dead,
Would start and tremble under her feet,
 And blossom in purple and red.

2. Wild Bees, by John Clare (1793-1864) 

These children of the sun which summer brings
As pastoral minstrels in her merry train
Pipe rustic ballads upon busy wings
And glad the cotters’ quiet toils again.
The white-nosed bee that bores its little hole
In mortared walls and pipes its symphonies,
And never absent couzen, black as coal,
That Indian-like bepaints its little thighs,
With white and red bedight for holiday,
Right earlily a-morn do pipe and play
And with their legs stroke slumber from their eyes.
And aye so fond they of their singing seem
That in their holes abed at close of day
They still keep piping in their honey dreams,
And larger ones that thrum on ruder pipe
Round the sweet smelling closen and rich woods
Where tawny white and red flush clover buds
Shine bonnily and bean fields blossom ripe,
Shed dainty perfumes and give honey food
To these sweet poets of the summer fields;
Me much delighting as I stroll along
The narrow path that hay laid meadow yields,
Catching the windings of their wandering song.
The black and yellow bumble first on wing
To buzz among the sallow’s early flowers,
Hiding its nest in holes from fickle spring
Who stints his rambles with her frequent showers;
And one that may for wiser piper pass,
In livery dress half sables and half red,
Who laps a moss ball in the meadow grass
And hoards her stores when April showers have fled;
And russet commoner who knows the face
Of every blossom that the meadow brings,
Starting the traveller to a quicker pace
By threatening round his head in many rings:
These sweeten summer in their happy glee
By giving for her honey melody.

3. Mist, by Alice Oswald (1966 – present)

It amazes me when mist
chloroforms the fields
and wipes out whatever world  exists

and walkers wade through coma
and close to but curtained from each other

sometimes there’s a second river
lying asleep along the river
where the sun rises
               sunk in thought

and my soul gets caught in it
               hung by the heels
               in water

it amazes me when mist
                             weeps as it lifts

                 and a crow
calls down to me in its treetop voice
       that there are webs and drips
and actualities up there

and in my fog-self shocked and grey
               it startles me to see the sky

4. Leisure, by William Henry Davies 1871 – 1940 

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

5. Sonnets from the Portuguese 44: Beloved, thou has brought me many flowers. By Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861 

Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers

Plucked in the garden, all the summer through

And winter, and it seemed as if they grew

In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers,

So, in the like name of that love of ours,

Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,

And which on warm and cold days I withdrew

From my heart’s ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers

Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,

And wait thy weeding; yet here’s eglantine,

Here’s ivy!— take them, as I used to do

Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.

Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,

And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.

6. The Trees, by Philip Larkin 1922 – 1985

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

7. A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

 That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
 That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
 So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
 Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
 And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
 While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
 And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
 Though it were ten thousand mile.

8. Strawberries, by Edwin Morgan (1920 – 2010)

There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

9. Sonnet VII by John Keats (1795-1821)

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

10. Excerpt from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, by George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
   There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
   There is society where none intrudes,
   By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
   I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
   From these our interviews, in which I steal
   From all I may be, or have been before,
   To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

   Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean–roll!
   Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
   Man marks the earth with ruin–his control
   Stops with the shore;–upon the watery plain
   The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
   A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
   When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
   He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

   His steps are not upon thy paths,–thy fields
   Are not a spoil for him,–thou dost arise
   And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
   For earth’s destruction thou dost all despise,
   Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
   And send’st him, shivering in thy playful spray
   And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
   His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth: —there let him lay.

11. Garden of Love, by William Blake (1757 – 1827)

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

About our gardens

Located in the heart of Bath’s famous Royal Crescent, our hotel is home to one acre of secluded gardens that have been lovingly landscaped by our gardening team.

Gently winding lavender paths take you across the beautiful lawns to the Taittinger Spa Garden and privately tucked away Walled Gardens, with various stunning floral displays along the route. Century-old trees, perfectly preened rose bushes and historic architecture, birds, bees and squirrels abound.

This summer we welcomed three rescue hedgehogs – Daphne, Jane and Beatrix – into our gardens. If you’d like to see them before hibernation, they tend to start their evening rambles at around 8pm.


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