The sedge is still not withered from the backyard

I had a gift certificate to White Flower Farms a couple of years ago.
The thing I wanted to buy most (rhubarb) cost less than the
certificate, so I had to order something else, so I looked at the
ornamental grasses and picked out a sedge. I made the mistake of
planting it behind the mint and the daylilies, which are taller
than it was, so it wasn’t a lot of use in the summertime, but all
through the winter of 2007-2008, it stayed green and nicely
shaped.

That winter was what I think of as normal, and it might have in
fact been on the mild side of normal, but it certainly got lots
colder than it does in any of the places Keats ever hung out, so I
started thinking about what he could possibly have meant in La Belle Dame Sans
Merci
when he said:

The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.

I discussed this with my
sister,
who has a degree in botany, while we were walking by a
lake in early April, and she pulled up a sedge plant to look at it. It was a bit
more withered than the one I got from White Flower Farms, but much
less withered than any of the other grass-like plants growing by
that lake.

So we concluded that when Keats said, “The sedge is wither’d
from the lake,” he meant, “Even the sedge is wither’d
from the lake.” And his audience probably understood that it
meant that it was the end of a really long hard winter, instead
of just getting the generalized picture of bleakness that we
get.

This has been one of those winters here in Southern New
England. As an urban dog-walker, I measure the difficulty of a
winter by how many days there’s ice on the sidewalks, not by
which species of grass-like thing has withered from the lake
shore, but this has been a bad one. And as you can see, the sedge is still nice
and green. Maybe the sedges Keats knew were more
wither-prone than the one White Flower Farms sent me. Or maybe
he was writing science fiction, and imagining that the
knight-at-arms was hanging out somewhere colder than he had ever
experienced.

Today I’m giving a concert, with
lots of practicing and packing beforehand, and celebrating my
birthday afterwards, so there won’t be time for a blog post.
So I’ve scheduled one from the spindle; I hope it works.


The sedge is not withered from my backyard
The sedge is not withered from my backyard

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2 thoughts on “The sedge is still not withered from the backyard”

  1. Pingback: Unwithered Sedge

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