My local park is everywhere around me – in the fields, the woods, the meadows and the hills, but there is one spot to which I gladly return time and time again: the Prato Fiorito – a miraculously tree-less mountain just behind me and so beloved of Shelley who, while a resident of Bagni di Lucca, visited it often and recollects it in that exstatic love poem Epipsychidion.
I wanted to be at the Prato yesterday and, despite the uncertain weather, I took off on my scooter and started my way to the foce Del Lago (where in heavy rain a lake forms) stopping to ask some cows permission to get past them. Then eventually, via a mainly untarred road which has suffered much in the recent rains I reached the crucifix which marks the start of the path to the top of the flowering meadow..
I know Epipsychidion practically by heart and recited it to myself, quite alone in the changing scenes of the Prato Fiorito with above, clouds forming and reforming and a light rain falling upon me while tracts of blue skies and distant thunder rumbled through this pre-eternal scene. Percy Bysshe would have loved it – he loved clouds!
All around me was a display of flowers guaranteed to put even the Chelsea Flower show to shame:
the odours deep
Of flowers, which, like lips murmuring in their sleep
Of the sweet kisses which had lulled them there,
Breathed but of her to the enamoured air;
And from the breezes whether low or loud,
And from the rain of every passing cloud,
And from the singing of the summer-birds,
And from all sounds, all silence.
And all the place is peopled with sweet airs;
The light clear element which the hill wears
Is heavy with the scent of lemon-flowers,
Which floats like mist laden with unseen showers,
And falls upon the eyelids like faint sleep;
And from the moss violets and jonquils peep
And dart their arrowy odour through the brain
Till you might faint with that delicious pain.
The jonquils, even in this wretched start to the summer, made my heart leap. They are brave little flowers and, although this year looking slightly bedraggled, their presence all around filled me with an intense warmth and joy. They seemed to breathe true love and their perfume was quite intoxicating!
I always look forwards to seeing the jonquils – also known as the poet’s narcissus in Italy – every year and, when my time comes, I would like my ashes to be scattered on this mountain sacred to poets and to all lovers of nature (if Italian bureaucracy allows it, that is!)
Another wonderful place to see jonquils is on Monte Croce (not to be confused with Pania della Croce) above Palagnana in nearbyTurrite valley. But every season brings its marvels to those who seek them in this enchanted wonderland.