Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies.
I hold you here root and all, in my hand flower–
but if I could understand what you are
root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is!
~Alfred Lord Tennyson
Whenever I read Tennyson’s poem or see a garden wall I think of Burnett’s novel, THE SECRET GARDEN, and then I find myself trying to imagine what Tennyson’s crannied wall and the garden walls at Misselthwaite Manor looked like. I’ve read that walled growing spaces date back to the earliest of Persian gardens and that their function, especially in the northern temperate zones, was to shelter a garden from frost and wind. Since purportedly the sheltering walls raised the ambient temperature inside a garden by several degrees, I’m guessing they were made of heavy stones. Although the garden walls in Tennyson’s poem and Hodgson’s novel no doubt were constructed similarly and to serve the same purpose, the practicality of such, is not the point of the two tales. The two literary pieces have to do with the impact of encountering the Ancient of Days or the contemplation of His mystery that often takes place within a garden’s walls. Every garden in a very real sense is a piece of Eden, and in Eden man inevitably encountered Him by whose Hands both he and it were made. As Tennyson grasped the entirety of a little flower in his hand, he voiced a firm belief that comprehending its mystery would lead to an unraveling of the ultimate conundrum, man and God. And in THE SECRET GARDEN the lives of two children were resurrected and subsequently infused with that same mysterious “stuff of life” after holy “place” and “elemental” grace had had their way with them.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; that there he put man whom he had formed…They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze… ~Genesis 2:8 and Genesis 3:8a ✝