The popular quote “The earth laughs in flowers” is, I believe, from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem Hamatreya. It’s a beautiful phrase and I took the liberty of using it in the poem below.
‘The earth laughs in flowers’
Green shoots of snowbells grin,
Trusting against the frost
With optimistic fragility.
There is a famous Zen Buddhist story that tells of a man being pursued by a ferocious tiger. He naturally runs away but presently finds himself trapped at the edge of a steep cliff. As the tiger approaches ever closer the man spots a vine hanging over the edge and, realising this is his only way to safety, grabs it and starts to lower himself down. About half-way he notices to his horror that at the bottom of the cliff there is another tiger, equally ferocious, waiting for him.
Is there another world for this frail dust
To warm with life and be itself again?
Something about me daily speaks there must,
And why should instinct nourish hopes in vain?
‘Tis nature’s prophesy that such will be,
And everything seems struggling to explain
The close sealed volume of its mystery.
Time wandering onward keeps its usual pace
As seeming anxious of eternity,
To meet that calm and find a resting place.
E’en the small violet feels a future power
And waits each year renewing blooms to bring,
And surely man is no inferior flower
To die unworthy of a second spring?
‘The Instinct Of Hope’ by John Clare.
Poetry is our way, sometimes clumsily, to paint truth with words. I know there are many other definitions and a variety of different poetic forms but at it’s core, like all authentic art, poetry acts in the service of truth.
I suspect that for as long as there have been people there have been stories told to capture their imagination, echo their ideas and dreams and help them understand their fears. Stories often help to suggest and frame that which we cannot touch, but which we nonetheless feel is true. I have a lot of sympathy with Philip Pullman when he writes:
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to incorporating reflections in my photography, and in this I know I am certainly not alone. One of the most well known photographs with a reflection was that taken by that astonishing master of the photographic art, Henri Cartier-Bresson, recording a man leaping over (or into) a puddle. The photograph, entitled Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare was regarded by Time Magazine as the ‘Photograph of the Century’. Without doubt it is a superb photograph, and certainly one that proves my point that you’re in the best of company if you use reflections in your work.