Published on Academy of American Poets (

Songs of the Garden

What’s wrong, 
handsome small farmer?
Heron stopping, 
pony stopping—


Healthy, educated maiden,
she would serve you a rough half-bushel—
cockle soup, a brew,
the water in which the puddings had been cooked


Remember, pilgrim: not the clothes, the road.

Pass between two hills’ breadth.

Put wind into the wish.


Mischance fall upon them who avoid the conflict:
the fork of their breeches
tied in a bundle


Manage cheerfully, 
two by two: 
cock and gander, 
dove and dragon.


Defied book-knowledge—
Taught the garden—


A compact: 
first, housewifely tasks; then,
much ale.


Copyright © 2019 Anna Lena Phillips Bell. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

"'Songs of the Garden' is made of words and phrases transcribed from the footnotes of English and Scottish Ballads (Heinemann, 1957), a collection edited by Robert Graves. It is part of a brief manuscript titled Smaller Songs."
Anna Lena Phillips Bell


Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Anna Lena Phillips Bell is the author of Ornament (University of North Texas Press, 2017), winner of the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize.

Date Published: 2019-01-01

Source URL: