Wake to Sleep


I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 ~ from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

The Woodland GardenThe end of autumn is a season that stretches the mind in many directions. There is glory above in the treetop colors and in the remnants of summer beauty at the feet. Lingering green mixes with gold and red and brown as summer gives way to autumn. Even as the garden moves through entropy as it prepares to lapse into winter somnolence, the roots of every plant grow and deepen, a hidden font of life beneath the earth. Even as nature moves into winter’s sleep, its underground life, its dreaming, stretches downward as a balance of new growth. Waking and sleeping become one, as we humans balance on the threshold of old and new, the magic of seasonal change. Nothing expresses this multiverse of experience like Theodore Roethke’s evocative poem “The Waking” as set to music and sung so eloquently by Kurt Elling (scroll down to start the video of a live performance). Enjoy the images of October in my garden as you listen to this song of waking and sleeping. (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

For more beautiful nature-based poetry and art, visit poet Simon Hilly’s blog.
For exquisite autumn (and any season!) images, visit Kerry’s Lightscapes Nature Photography blog.

29 thoughts on “Wake to Sleep

    • Thank you, Otto! It was really a magnificent autumn this year; frost didn’t come until November so the foliage colors just kept turning while the flowers continued to bloom. Now, alas, winter has arrived and we have had snow and ice. The garden has gone to sleep, so I’m already dreaming of next year’s garden. Thank you for stopping by.

  1. What a gift, Lynn, what a gift. I’ve never heard of Kurt, the music is beautiful and harmonizes so well with your photos. Ruby reds is spectacular – those colors and textures! All very beautiful.

    • Thank you, Lynn; this musical setting by Kurt is one that continues to “haunt” me – it appears in my inner song forum almost every day 🙂 I agree, Ruby Reds was one of my favorite garden combinations throughout late summer and fall. Alas, it fell this weekend to our first frosts, but I have committed to replanting this combination next year, as I found myself returning to it over and over again with my camera. It seems that we often agree on visual beauty 🙂

  2. Is it my imagination or is the fall in your area one of the more outstanding ones that you’ve had? You’ve shared fall pictures before but these are magnificent. Loved everything about this post including the song. Thank you for a lovely Sunday meditation.

    • Eleanor, we are having a beautiful fall but I think it is also that the garden is still so full of bloom – the colors go from the garden on the ground up to the trees in the sky as if it were one continuous palette of color – I am transfixed every morning when I go out and look again. I love Kurt Elling’s voice and his treatment of one of my favorite poems – glad you enjoyed it. And you are more than welcome 🙂

  3. A perfect post; had to share on Facebook. Feel blessed by your words, images and link to Elling’s amazing interpretation of Roethke. Just perfect. Thank you, Lynn. Joy in your dreams, resting, growth…and the beauty of your magical gardens.

    • Kitty, thank you for the Facebook share – that is an honor. Isn’t Elling’s interpretation of that poem just fantastic? I’ve loved both the poem and his rendition of it for a long time – lately, I’ve been listening to the song frequently and felt the need to share 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Truly stunning. Pictures to dwell upon lovingly.
    We are about to abandon one garden and start another in a moving episode. I have been listening to Mahler and Beethoven, the Spanish Lady and symphony Elgar didn’t get to finish, and lots of Mozart, and longing to compose. Time does not permit gardening or composing at the moment, alas.

    • Oh, Colonialist, I found it more difficult than I expected when I left my old garden to come here. But now, I am content and happy, so I wish that for you as well. Mahler’s 9th Symphony, Adagio – one of my favorite pieces ever. Even if you are not composing, listening is a close second 🙂

  5. Like, like, like! (photos, verses, music). A couple of days ago I found some of the Trillium seeds (kept in moist storage) with emerging radicles, which would happen in the woods too – as you so well put it – new growth stretching downward…

      • Maybe because the word growth is associated usually with ‘up’ or a positive number (if we consider a zero level); it is very rare used with the meaning of growing ‘down’. When it comes to plants most often what’s underground, not being visible, it’s ignored.

  6. God gave you a beautiful fall this year!! How do you accomplish anything with such surrounding beauty! I’d be tempted to sit on the patio, dreaming and drinking coffee all day. Thanks for the poem — quite thought provoking.

    • Graham, you nailed it on the head. I linger every morning, feasting my eyes on this extraordinary autumn, and am SO reluctant to go anywhere! When it is warm enough, I work on my laptop on the deck. At least I can capture a moment or two with the camera – that will help me get through the winter 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.