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"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley"
Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet and lyricist
Many people will recognise the lines of Rabbie Burns quoted above. They come from his poem, "To a mouse, on turning her up in her nest with the plough", though it is common today for the second line to be replaced with the more modern, "Go often askew". But how many, I wonder, recall what follows these words? The lines continue thus: "An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!" Read in its fullness Burns' words will strike a chord with many - we have all planned something with great care and the expectation of a favourable outcome, only to be thwarted and disappointed when it all goes wrong.
I thought of these words the other day when I was casting round the garden for a few photographs of our flowering bulbs. In the main we prefer to group like with like so that each variety of flower shows itself off to full effect. However, as I moved from flower bed to flower bed a noticed a couple of bulbs that had, as they say "made their own arrangements". Or perhaps a bird, mole or squirrel had helped them out and moved a bulb to a different location. The first was a couple of tulips among the bluebells a real contrast of deep red against the softer blue of the smaller flowers. The second was a narcissus among the tulips. I recall these being planted in groups alongside each other, but now they seem to be starting to intermingle.
I'm not, despite Burns' words, disappointed by this disruption of our "best laid scheme". It seems to me that sometimes our plans go wrong with positive consequences, and something that has "gang...agley" can offer, unexpectedly, a "promis'd joy" that was unforeseen.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Photo Title: Tulips Among The Bluebells
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm - 35mm equiv.) crop
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On