Limes, all full of the mumbling bee…

One of my favourite poems EVER is Real Property by Harold Monro. I think I learned it by heart age about 15, and it’s been a comfort, a pleasure, and an inspiration ever since.

Today I came upon a most wonderful literal incarnation of it, just a few hundred yards from my house. I was out for an early evening walk, looking out for wildlife, when I became aware of that unmistakable sound of many, many bees, and started looking for a swarm instead. Then I realised that the noise was coming from a line of pleached limes, and each little flower cluster had its own visitor!

The whole tree was covered with all kinds of bees and bumbles, loving the lime flowers – and there is a whole avenue of trees!

The noise was wonderful – almost as amazing as the scent. Apologies to anyone in the village who then heard me mumbling along the road myself, trying to get the whole poem straight in my head; saying it out loud was the only way it would come out!

Real Property, Harold Monro

Tell me about that harvest field.
Oh! Fifty acres of living bread.
The colour has painted itself in my heart;
The form is patterned in my head.

So now I take it everywhere,
See it whenever I look round;
Hear it growing through every sound,
Know exactly the sound it makes ā€”
Remembering, as one must all day,
Under the pavement the live earth aches.

Trees are at the farther end,
Limes all full of the mumbling bee:
So there must be a harvest field
Whenever one thinks of a linden tree.

A hedge is about it, very tall,
Hazy and cool, and breathing sweet.
Round paradise is such a wall,
And all the day, in such a way,
In paradise the wild birds call.

You only need to close your eyes
And go within your secret mind,
And you’ll be into paradise:
I’ve learnt quite easily to find
Some linden trees and drowsy bees,
A tall sweet hedge with the corn behind.

I will not have that harvest mown:
I’ll keep the corn and leave the bread.
I’ve bought that field; it’s now my own:
I’ve fifty acres in my head.
I take it as a dream to bed.
I carry it about all day….

Sometimes when I have found a friend
I give a blade of corn away.

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