Monday, April 9, 2012

"The Earth Belongs to the Living"... Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Tulips

Make the most of now!
Earth belongs to the living,
the dead had their chance.

by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, April 9, 2012

How Will My Garden Grow?

With soil between my fingers
god-like I squish and mold
poke a belly-button hole
into earth's rounded dome

ponder responsibility
wonder if I care enough
to nurture, to guide
tiny seeds awaiting
a chance at life,

or will I prop vintage
seed packet art
upon my windowsill,

Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, April 9, 2012.

(I'm not known for having a "green thumb" and sometimes think I am better off admiring the artwork upon the seed's packet! :)   Click on the link "seed packet art" (above) - and see stunning art work!

Linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads "Open Link Monday"

The above image I used Kim Klassen Cafe texture : "Let Go"
* * * * *

Just before Jefferson left Paris in 1789, he fell sick for six days and was treated by an atheist physician, Dr. Richard Gem.  They had certain personal tragedies and intellectual convictions in common, and it seems the theme he lived the rest of his life by came from this interaction.  Of course, this has been greatly studied and commented on, but it seems the following can be read on several levels, political, personal, and deeply psychological.

"A subject comes into my head... the question Whether a generation of men has the right to bind another".  

"... a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government.  I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident , 'that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living': that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it."

"...the earth belongs to each of these generations, during its course fully, and in their own right"

"...the earth belongs to the living, and not to the dead."

"...the earth belongs always to the living generation.  They may manage it, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during usufruct.  They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please."

Europe "belonged to the dead" not the living as it was entrenched in ancient laws, religious ritual, social protocol and sexual prohibition.   His life back home was a "bondage" of debt from his relatives and the GREATER bondage of black people to the white men.

This just goes to show one how much Jefferson struggled within the confines of his times...  What a hero he would have been if he had only freed his slaves like a few other slaveowners did.  But due to his debt, he couldn't had he wanted to.  He spent too much money on Monticello, artifacts, and "things" and the institution of slavery, it can be argued, cost more than if the plantation owners had them working as a free people.  He died with a huge debt, his slaves probably the most valuable thing he "owned".

"Kitchen Garden" at Monticello

I am reading two books right now:  'Thomas Jefferson, an intimate history" by Fawn. M. Brodie and "The Hemingses of Monticello, an American family" by Annette Gordon-Reed.  Both are FASCINATING reading and I highly recommend them.


Kerry O'Connor said...

I love the belly button hole! That is just so exactly the right description. I'm still loving your tulips :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I so loved gardening, when I was able. I now tend a few barrels of blooms and that satisfies me.....the seed packet art is fantastic, isnt it? wow. Who knew? If that is your garden above, it is GLORIOUS. I had a huge backyard garden when my kids were young. Loved it.

Anonymous said...

Love "belly-button hole" and "Earth belongs to the living" - yes, will we (do we care enough to) take up the challenge?

Daydreamertoo said...

I too am really loving the flowers. You have such a gift for taking excellent photographs.
I agree, earth belongs to the living.
Lovely Haiku, and I found it a very interesting snippet of history on Thomas Jefferson.

Marian said...

this is a fascinating post from start to finish. thank you!

Kim Nelson said...

I am an avid gardener. In fact, two of my four published books are about gardening and horticulture in the American Southwest. Gardening is like meditation to me, but reading this poem made it feel like an offering of gratitude and love. I guess it is. You did the topic justice, Margaret. By the way, I usually use those gorgeous seed packets in mixed media art projects. They are too beautiful to simply recycle!

Anonymous said...

Love the belly-button hole and the possible link to child-rearing.

The ending is my favorite:
"or will I prop vintage
seed packet art
upon my windowsill,


Mary Mansfield said...

Gardening really is about nurturing much as parenthood is, only plants don't talk back or leave messes for Mom to clean up! And the history buff in me just loves the info on Thomas Jefferson, will definitely check into those two books.

Abin Chakraborty said...

loved the poem.esp the pointed question at the end.

Laurie Kolp said...

I haven't inherited my dad's green thumb yet. I'm hoping one day to!

Linda said...

You probably don't give yourself enough credit. If you tend your garden as nicely as you do your photography and poetry, I'm sure it's perfect. I love your header, too. Beautiful!

Semaphore said...

What an exposition of your thesis in this poem! And your thoughts, your ruminations, afterwards, are even more inspiring. It was interesting, even instructive, reading that history, and your perspective on its touch points on life.

Susie Clevenger said...

What a beautiful poem and commentary...I too wonder if I will nurture or just admire the seed packet :)

Mary Ann Potter said...

A wonderful poem and a fascinating commentary. So nicely written and so well presented! Glad you posted this.

Teresa said...

I love visiting here~your photography and poetry are wonderful, and it's always a history lesson. I love the belly-button line. :-)

Herotomost said...

The photo of the garden makes me jealous....we have one but small. I love everything about this whole package.....the quote from Jefferson is fantastic and your poetry made me feel like giving mother earth a little hug. Great work.