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Gardening as a Form of Worship
Bruce Taylor

To bring us to our knees.
To bring us back to quiet.
Inclined as we are
to this labor and attention.
Where there’s little
choice but to begin
with the intensive
care of the present.
Grub up the dying,
start with something new.
Deprive the bad
and nurture the good.
Simple stuff it seems
at first, herbs drying,
a red flood ripening
upon a cool and shady sill.
The blue cold’s cluster
in the morning glory vines.
The ardor of the marigold.

From Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening in Pity the World: Poems Selected
and New
(Plainview Press, 2005).Used with the author’s permission.


Bruce Taylor taught Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for 35 years. Now retired, he is the author of eight collections of poetry and editor of eight anthologies. Poet Laureate of Eau Claire, Wisconsin from 2011 - 2015, Bruce lives with his wife, writer Patti See, in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin. Learn more about him at

Post New Comment:
I just came in from capturing the beetles in the hyacinths, from watering with my big can the thirsty-draught-ridden roses, grateful for the way in which the garden always nurtures and fills me. Loved your poem.
Posted 07/22/2012 02:03 PM
What a fine harvest from this poem!
Posted 07/22/2012 09:52 AM
Larry Schug:
We're heading out to the garden now to pray-yes, I agree-and work and to do battle with that dang woodchuck who is smarter than two college grads! Nice poem; like all good poetry, it says a lot with a little.
Posted 07/22/2012 09:38 AM
So nice! Makes me want to weed!
Posted 07/22/2012 09:10 AM
Janet Leahy:
Lovely first line to bring us into the poem, and "the intensive care of the present" an additional benefit to the gardener, to attend to the loveliness of the moment, especially this week.
Posted 07/22/2012 07:46 AM
Kay Sanders:
This poem captures so well the world of gardening--and of worship. Love the lines,"intensive/ care of the present."
Posted 07/22/2012 07:21 AM
Gary Busha:
Yes. Well planted, watered, and nurtured.
Posted 07/22/2012 07:10 AM

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