'The Tyger' and the Tangerines

It was the kind of spring day, sun-kissed and warm, when frigid winter seemed vanquished, yet the fetid New York City summer felt safely far off. Flowers were bursting out, early, all over town.

Jefferson Market Garden 3.jpg Jefferson Market Garden 1.jpg

Jefferson Market Garden 4.jpg Jackson Square tree.jpg

As frequently happens when hibernation comes to an end, a craving to eat something healthy and green developed. Off I went then, down West 13th Street to Integral Yoga Natural Foods, with no suspicion that poetry was waiting to ambush me.

But there beneath the strawberries, just above the honey tangerines, dangled a text as romantic as the day: William Blake's "The Tyger," printed and laminated like the signs around it, and spattered with water droplets from the automatic misters.

Tyger tangerines.jpg

Verse, lurking amid the greenery! As a spirit-lifting surprise, it was astonishingly potent. Curious and smiling, I accosted the first employee I saw, in a neighboring aisle, to ask what it was doing there. The man said he didn't know; he hadn't seen it yet, but he guessed his boss had put it up: a variation on the cartoon characters that sometimes decorate notices there. A couple of minutes later, he walked over to read it. "William Blake," he murmured, though the sign didn't say so.

I wandered off, cheerful, and burbled to the cashier that there was poetry in the produce section. "Does it have something to do with produce?" she asked. A reasonable question. That the answer is no -- that the poem is simply there, not there to sell us blueberries -- has nearly everything to do with its power to jolt us gently into joy.

April 1, 2010 9:55 PM | | Comments (3)


Interesting...I wrote a paper on the art of William Blake a few years back.

great find!

“Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.”


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This page contains a single entry by Critical Difference published on April 1, 2010 9:55 PM.

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