These poems are about gardens, particularly the seventeenth-century French baroque gardens designed by the father of the form, André Le Nôtre. While the poems focus on such examples as Versailles, which Le Nôtre created for Louis XIV, they also explore the garden as metaphor. Using the imagery of the garden, Cole Swensen considers everything from human society to the formal structure of poetry. She looks in particular at the concept of public versus private property, asking who actually owns a garden? A gentle irony accompanies the question because in French, the phrase "le nôtre" means "ours." Whereas all of Le Nôtre's gardens were designed and built for the aristocracy, today most are public parks. Swensen probes the two senses of "le nôtre" to discover where they intersect, overlap, or blur.
About the Author
Cole Swensen is the author of eleven previous books of poetry. She is also a translator and has won the PEN USA Award in Literary Translation. Her poetry has won the Iowa Poetry Prize and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, and she teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Table of Contents
IntroductionHISTORYA Garden Is a StartParadiseLeaving the Middle AgesThe Birth of Landscape ArchitectureThe Garden as Architecture ItselfThe Garden as ExtensionSir MineGardens BelongPRINCIPLES
In an Effort to Make the Garden a Standing ProofCertain Principles Must Be ObservedA Garden Occurs in Four StagesA Garden as a LetterA Garden as BetweenA Garden as a Unit of MeasureAnamorphosisEuclid's Eighth TheoremBecause a Garden Must EndVAUX-LE-VICOMTEIf a Garden of NumbersFurther Notes on the Collusion of Time and SpaceWorking ConditionsCharles Le Brun (1619-1690)WaterLabyrinths and MazesOTHER GARDENSSaint-Germain-en-LayeChantillySaint-CloudMeudonTHE MEDICISCatherine (1519-1589)Marie (1573-1642)The Luxembourg GardensVERSAILLESVersailles the UnfurledThe Divinity of the Sun KingThe Garden as a Map of Louis XIVLe Nôtre's DrawingsAnd the Birds, TooThe Ghost of Much LaterSTATUARYORANGERIES"YOU ARE A HAPPY MAN, LE NÔTRE"On HappinessPsychic BotanyThe Gardened HeartTuileries, January 2007Keeping Track of Distance
What People are Saying About This
"Engaging and delightful."Publishers Weekly
"Highly recommended for contemporary poetry collections."Library Journal
"The best landscape architecture book of the year is a book-length poem."Archnewsnow.com
"The unrelenting lens Swensen turns on the [gardens] allows us to glimpse some of the myriad layers that constitute history."Harvard Review