Of Agriculture, by Abraham Cowley
by Paul Mathers
It is one of those joyfully gushing pieces that I find so charming, partly because I am capable of it myself, partly because unabashed enthusiasm seems to be nearly a modern sin. This is one of my least favorite aspects of the modern world.
“We may talk as we please of lilies, and lions rampant, and spread eagles, in fields d’or or d’argent; but, if heraldry were guided by reason, a plough in a field arable would be the most noble and ancient arms.”
A sort of Food Not Bombs sentiment which I find no disagreement in my heart or mind. Indeed, one of my favorite activities is gardening. As Cowley points out, it is a way to contribute. It is a way to get an easy sense of the satisfaction of work. And it’s relatively easy. There are, of course, tricks to be learned, but really it boils down to sticking a seed in the dirt and pouring water on it, maybe pruning a bit.
He also includes a fly over celebration of the antiquity of the art. He points out that the first three men in Genesis were, after a fashion, farmers or gardeners. He talks about gardening in Greek and Roman culture.
Did I enjoy reading it? Yes. Did I get something out of it? …well, I enjoyed it anyway. Would I recommend it? Unhesitatingly. More people should garden.