TCS: Weed Appreciation Day – Unhated for an Hour

Good Morning!

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Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
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But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where
people want something else. In blaming nature, people
mistake the culprit.  Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s.
– Anonymous

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“A flower is an educated weed.”  – Luther Burbank

Some plants which we call weeds are actually beneficial.

Chickweed is an herb which is rich in copper, iron, and vitamins A, B, and C, and was used as an edible green in ancient Greece and Ireland.

Clover is a member of the pea family, and useful as stock feed, or can be plowed under to add nitrogen, and reduce both erosion and nutrient loss from the soil, which helps increase the yield of subsequent crops.

Even the despised Crabgrass is a nutritious cereal, one of the fastest-growing in the world, thriving even in poor soil or during droughts.

Dandelions have been an important component of traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. The roots and leaves are used as a tonic to help the digestive system. European herbalists considered them useful in treating respiratory and urinary tract problems, while Native Americans made dandelion leaf poultices for slow-healing wounds.  The freshly sprouted leaves of dandelions have long been eaten as a spring green in many parts of the world, and dandelion flowers are useful for dyeing cloth a soft yellow-green color.

Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars eat, and provides all the nourishment needed for them to transform into Monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies are in serious decline, so they need all the milkweed (that has not been sprayed with weed killer) that they can find.

So before you pull that weed, or spray it with deadly chemicals, find out more about it. That weed might be more friend than foe.

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While this poem does not actually mention weeds, I think there are weedy thoughts going on in Marvell’s mind as he mows the grass.


The Mower’s Song

by Andrew Marvell

My mind was once the true survey
Of all these meadows fresh and gay,
And in the greenness of the grass
Did see its hopes as in a glass;
When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

But these, while I with sorrow pine,
Grew more luxuriant still and fine,
That not one blade of grass you spy’d
But had a flower on either side;
When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

Unthankful meadows, could you so
A fellowship so true forgo?
And in your gaudy May-games meet
While I lay trodden under feet?
When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

But what you in compassion ought,
Shall now by my revenge be wrought;
And flow’rs, and grass, and I and all,
Will in one common ruin fall.
For Juliana comes, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

And thus, ye meadows, which have been
Companions of my thoughts more green,
Shall now the heraldry become
With which I shall adorn my tomb;
For Juliana comes, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.


“The Mower’s Song” from Marvell: The Poems of Andrew Marvell, edited by Nigel Smith – published in 2003 by Pearson Education Ltd

AndrewMarvell (1621-1678) English poet, satirist, and sometimes a member of the House of Commons between 1659 and 1678. During the Caroline (1625–1649) and Interregnum (1649-1660) periods, which included the English Civil War, Marvell wrote anonymous prose satires criticizing the monarchy and Roman Catholicism, defending Puritan dissenters, and denouncing censorship. He was a friend of John Milton, and Marvell not only avoided punishment for his own co-operation with republicanism, but also helped convince the government of Charles II not to execute John Milton for his antimonarchical writings and revolutionary activities. “To His Coy Mistress” is now the poem for which Marvell is most remembered.

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Weeds

by Harriet Brown

Their seeds are in the soil always.
Dig them or yank them up,
spade over them—they will be back.
The creepers thread roots
through the soil’s lacy eyes.
The sprouters love true darkness.
The binders make a weakness
out of strength.

Crown vetch, velvetleaf, creeping Charlie.
Leaves like umbrellas, like hearts,
barbed arrows lifted to the sun.
The ordinary and the obscure
all bound to the same dirt.

Some defend themselves with thorns
and some with flowers.
Some dig their roots deeper
than water. Some make it
to the edge of the known
world before dying back.

Like us, they are all tender
at the start. What they grow into
is another story.


“Weeds” from The Promised Land, © 2004 by Harriet Brown – Parallel Press

Harriet Brown (1958 – ) American nonfiction author, journalist, poet, and assistant professor of journalism at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York. Author of the books  The Good-Bye Window: A Year in the Life of a Day-Care Center, Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia, and Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight. She has also published The Promised Land, a chapbook of poetry.
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The First Dandelion

by Walt Whitman

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—
innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.


“The First Dandelion” from The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman – Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1995

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet, essayist, and journalist. As a humanist, he is considered as part of the transition in American letters from transcendentalism to realism. He paid the cost of publishing the first edition of Leaves of Grass, without naming himself as the author, but with his engraved portrait by Samuel Hollyer on the facing page. He planted himself 500 lines into the poem, “Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos, disorderly, fleshly, and sensual, no sentimentalist, no stander above men or women or apart from them, no more modest than immodest.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Whitman an enthusiastic five page letter, and recommended the book to his friends, but some critics called the work obscene for its overt sexuality. During the American Civil War, Whitman worked part-time in the army paymaster’s office, and volunteered as a nurse in the army hospitals. Later he published Memoranda During the War, based on his experiences.
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Half Full

by Patricia L. Goodman

Look how ruthless crabgrass
holds the dew, each drop

shining, lawn littered
with glitter. And look

how unruly wild berry canes
arch over daisies

in that unkempt field.
Don’t you love

the way they sway
when a bluebird alights?

And that Tree of Heaven?
Weed that it is, its winged seeds

vibrate against the blatant blue
of morning. And see,

even as tears fall they gleam
like crystal along my path.


“Half-Full” from Closer to the Ground, © 2014 by Patricia L. Goodman –Main Street Rag Publishing

Patricia L. Goodman, American poet, teacher, and horse breeder, is a graduate of Wells College with a degree in Biology and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She spent her career raising, training, and showing horses with her orthodontist husband, on their farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, until his death. She now lives in Delaware, and teaches an Advanced Poetry Writing class at Osher Lifelong Learning. She won the Delaware Press Association Communications Award in Poetry, First Place, in 2013 and 2014.

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Weeds

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

White with daisies and red with sorrel
And empty, empty under the sky!—
Life is a quest and love a quarrel—
Here is a place for me to lie.

Daisies spring from damnèd seeds,
And this red fire that here I see
Is a worthless crop of crimson weeds,
Cursed by farmers thriftily.

But here, unhated for an hour,
The sorrel runs in ragged flame,
The daisy stands, a bastard flower,
Like flowers that bear an honest name.

And here a while, where no wind brings
The baying of a pack athirst,
May sleep the sleep of blessèd things,
The blood too bright, the brow accurst.


“Weeds” from Second April, © 1921 by Edna St. Vincent Millay – Harper & Brothers

 Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) American poet and playwright born in Maine, graduated from Vassar College in 1917, and published her first book of poetry that same year. She became a well-known and highly respected poet and playwright, with a strong feminist sensibility. She was the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1923, for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver. In 1936, she was in a road accident which severely damaged nerves in her spine, requiring frequent surgeries and hospitalizations, and at least daily doses of morphine. Millay lived the rest of her life in pain. Though she had been a dedicated and active pacifist during WWI, in the 1930s, she became very alarmed by the rise of fascism, and was an ardent supporter of U.S. involvement in WWII. She worked with the Writers’ War Board to create propaganda, including poetry. Millay’s reputation in poetry circles was damaged by her war work. Book critic Merle Rubin noted, “She seems to have caught more flak from the literary critics for supporting democracy than Ezra Pound did for championing fascism.” St. Vincent Millay was the second woman to be awarded the Robert Frost Medal for body of work in 1943.

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A poem by Bai Juyi

The weeds are spreading out across the plains,
Each year, they die, then flourish again.
They burn but are not destroyed by prairie fire,
When spring winds blow, they flourish again.


(translation not credited)

Bai Juyi (772-846) renowned and prolific Chinese poet, scholar, and Tang dynasty official, whose career was interrupted by exile. He first got into trouble for writing against a long war fought with a minor group of Tatars, satirizing greedy officials, highlighting the suffering of the common folk, and for overstepping his minor position by memorializing the emperor before his superiors did, a breach of protocol. He was called back to the capital after five years, and given the position of second-class Assistant Secretary, but his writings about the corruption of the new administration got him sent away again, but this time as a provincial governor. During his tenure, he ordered the restoration of a dike and a dam to control the flow of water from a lake that was the main source of irrigation water for local farmers. Two of his most famous poems are long narratives, “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow” and “The Song of the Pipa Player,” but he was also known for poems which showed his strong sense of social responsibility, like “The Elderly Charcoal Seller.”  In 839, he suffered a paralytic attack, losing the use of his left leg, but partially recovered, and spent his remaining time arranging his collected works. He died seven years later.

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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