This poem by Robert Graves feels so appropriate for June’s Full Strawberry Moon–when wild strawberries burst with divine flavor–unlike the often tasteless, hothouse berries found in our grocery stores.
Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine,
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine.
No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June
Beside the trickling stream.
One such to melt at the tongue’s root,
Confounding taste with scent,
Beats a full peck of garden fruit:
Which points my argument.
May sudden justice overtake
And snap the froward pen,
That old and palsied poets shake
Against the minds of men.
Blasphemers trusting to hold caught
In far-flung webs of ink,
The utmost ends of human thought
Till nothing’s left to think.
But may the gift of heavenly peace
And glory for all time
Keep the boy Tom who tending geese
First made the nursery rhyme.
Of course, the poem is about so much more than strawberries. It’s about the healthy alternative of being rooted in the natural world. It’s about blossoming and bearing fruit and enjoying it all immensely because every harvest is fleeting. And the poem is also about retaining or rekindling the inspiration of youth, for our words and deeds mean nothing if we aren’t at least as inspired as the shepherd who invented nursery rhymes while tending his flock.
The Full Strawberry Moon reminds me of all these things and of one thing more. Perhaps the Algonquin people knew this next thing better than most—the importance of ritual, of acknowledging the rite of passage from daughter to woman. Every June, the Algonquin people held a festival culminating in an all-night dance. Around a sacred fire, three rings of women danced. The inner circle belonged to the young women who were beginning their moon cycles, the second row belonged to the child bearers, and the outer circle belonged to the grandmothers. The dance wove them all together in a tapestry that strengthened their community.
This is of no small significance to me. I have been working diligently, while recovering my health, to complete a novel about a man who travels the globe in search of a better relationship with The Divine Feminine. On the night of the Full Strawberry Moon, I hope you’ll join me in this ritual. Place a bowl of strawberries (the best you can find) under the light of the Moon. Then dance or walk slowly or move rhythmically around it as you repeat your intentions for your own flourishing and better world. And may joy be with you.