Lay for the Day 7th
southern Mediterranean countries such as the Holy Land, the olive harvest
begins in the first weeks of October. In ancient Israel it coincided with
Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, a festival of thanksgiving which began
on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, Tishri (corresponding roughly
to the Gregorian September/October).
the Latin countries of the northern Mediterranean France, Italy,
Spain the harvest tends to begin later, in November or December.
Gogh painted his Olive Grove: Pale Blue Sky in the asylum at St
Rémy in Provence, in November 1889. In December he painted the
pickers at work in the same groves.
ancient Greece, the olive was sacred to Athene, goddess of wisdom, and
a bride would wear or carry a garland of its branches. A crown of wild
olive was the highest distinction an Athenian citizen could receive, signifying
a thing done well for the sake of its well-doing, without thought of gain.
Champions of the Olympic games were crowned with olive.
Trees as twisted as history
With seemingly nothing but dust
rock to subsist on
Put out their straight, fresh greenery.
They might have been old already
When peerless limbs of the ladies
in all centuries,
Those of the godly sisterhood
No worker could have carved
Of Artemis, of Aphrodite,
off the shade that flows
On roots gone down like stone in stone
And stepped into their proper
Whether of moonbeam or sunray,
Gowns of their bright and naked selves.
Perhaps a thousand times,
In their hard hands, the peasantry
the flanks of the trunks
To bring down the fruit thousandfold
Onto their blankets. One
The sticks were let go and hard hands
sank in the ground
Where still the sharp-stoned, dark drops fall.
Once a first flute whistled
Stubborn goats, the horned lyre mixed its
notes with a noon
Wind moving the silvering crown
Of long shoots trimmed for
signs of peace.
From wood as tortuous as time
grace of leaf has come
Again, ages into æons.
So in the harsh aridity
And in the dispiriting press
suck of the city,
As if from nowhere, now and then
A straightforward beauty
Such as yours, that carries the air
colour of the new
To all before it like the dawn
That the unsleeping birds
And holds, like the moon when it rounds
full in mid-sky,
Unneared by any cloud, the mind
Still with brimming of thankfulness
And of wonder and, like the leaves
Our hearts to be refreshed and hope.
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