Tuesday, May 27, 2014

EVERYTHING IS LEAF




BARTRAM'S GARDEN
On my recent trip to Philadelphia I got to spend a delightful afternoon with artist/writer Stefany Anne Golberg.

We bravely took the 36 trolley from downtown, alit at 54th Street, and explored the ancient (1728(!)) and charming Bartram's Garden.

As you can see from the pix, this recent essay by Stefany, from Drexel University's The Smart Set, kind of says it all.

EVERYTHING IS LEAF

In The Metamorphosis of Plants, Goethe turned to botany — because sometimes, poetry isn't enough.
By Stefany Anne Golberg

"Gloom rains down during early April days in the north. The sky is heavy and stuffed with shadows. A goldfinch at the bird feeder looks ridiculous; his molting winter feathers are a wreck. Everything about his half-golden face says hope, the uncombed horror of hope. This is the time we look for anything that reminds us of life. These are the days of stick-seeking and leaf-hunting, of changing our eyes into microscopes. On the windowsill, a slug; under a pile of leaves, an infinitesimal green something. Eliot was so right about April and its cruelty.

Found among the notes of the poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe is a stupendous claim: Everything is leaf. This is a statement that seems too beautiful to be science. Goethe came to this idea on a trip to Italy in the late 1700s. The more Goethe looked at plants, and lived and breathed with plants, the more profoundly he felt poetry’s limits. He turned to botany and began publishing scientific works. He created his own study of seeing, which he called “morphology.” In this, Goethe’s love of plants followed the same path that all lasting love must take. Goethe wanted to know plants from their most essential beginnings, wanted to touch their seeds, follow their cycles. He couldn’t be satisfied just wandering around parks, glancing at the flowers and pronouncing metaphors upon them — Goethe had to understand what a plant truly is. Everything is leaf, he discovered at last, every part of a plant is leaf. The cotyledon, the foliage, the cataphylls, the petals — a plant is fundamentally leaf. Goethe published this intimate memoir of his relationship with leaves and named it The Metamorphosis of Plants."

Read the rest of this stupendous essay HERE.

Stefany resides in Schwenksville, PA, with her husband Morgan Meis, who we met afterwards for dinner. They both teach at Drexel and Morgan also writes (among many other places) for The Smart Set.

Check out the latest from his column, "Idle Chatter," for a closer look at Goya.

Check out as well his first piece, on Frank Lloyd Wright, for the New Yorker blog. Amazing, right? I'm sure it's the first of many. He also has a stellar piece on his conversion (in Sri Lanka, of all places), in this month's Image.

That is one smart (and kind, and dazzlingly talented) COUPLE, I'd say. Keep an eye out for them. They are destined for big things. Heck, they are big things ALREADY.

Thank you for welcoming me to your part of the world, Stefany and Morgan.
And truly, everything IS leaf.

okay, and maybe an occasional bird....

2 comments:

  1. And only a poet or a flimflammer could come up with the notion that something hardly visible is everything.


    I LOVE THIS!
    Thanks Heather for leading me to this!

    So interesting....because the other day I was fascinated, more than usual, by the green life that has finally revealed itself after way too long a winter. I took a crazy amount of pictures that at the time, I figured, I would blog and title "green"...and now I am thinking I will have to post these leaves of mine and link them to your post instead!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry. bad writing - opening with the weather.

    ReplyDelete

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