Suzanna Fitzpatrick on the poetry of place

Great takes on Garden Poems

Abegail Morley

It’s hard to write about a garden. From a Western standpoint, there’s no escaping the long shadow of Eden and original sin. Even outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, the major world religions all have the trope of the garden as paradise: a place of escape and revelation. This persists in a post-Industrial Revolution culture which fetishes the pastoral.


If the garden bears the weight of our expectations, the writer has to negotiate this burden. Poetry of place needs to be about more than description, however accomplished; it is also about people in relation to the place. When I arrived at Riverhill, I read Abegail’s poem, ‘How to Walk in the Garden’. Her approach is to adopt a beguilingly didactic tone, assuming the role of guide. The first line of the poem pulls us in: “Here’s the key to the garden”, and the imperatives continue, both inviting and commanding us to “Squander…

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