It is Murdo Mackenzie’s 28th death anniversary today. He was the more than passionate head gardener of Garinish Island who lived there even after his retirement.Those are his costumized weeding-tools.
’That is Shaw’s place where you are sitting,’ said my hostess. She went on to tell of the things she had heard him say there, and of the brilliant, fiery play of ideas, rising like a winged flame above certain gatherings in which that astonishing commentator on men and gods (and sometimes women) had struck the first spark; of an actual élan, an almost physical impact of opposing theories and their discharge into verbal flashes of lightning, making for some the chaos less chaotic, but for others, the darkness dark indeed. He loved the island and knew its moods. Then too, this was a place where an interviewer would not be popping up from beneath every rose bush, or swinging coyly down from every ginkgo tree … ‚This is the bachelor quarters,’ said the lady, ‚and this is where A.E. stays when he is here.’ I looked about the wide room with its fluted marble columns, its chaste, classical decorations, and its stone floors covered by the skins of tiger and bear and deer. Beyond the other was the beauty of the sea. And I thought to myself, ‚If George Russel is the man of his poems, there are times when this spot would suit him very well.’ … ‚He tells me he likes it here,’ went on the lady, ‚he has painted every nook and corner of the island.’ ‚And that,’ I said, looking at certain indelible marks on the stone floor of the portico, ‚is where he cleans his palette.’