Čapek’s Garden Prayer

Some know Karel Čapek as a seven-time Nobel nominee, but most remember him as the man who gave us the word “robot”. Among Čapek’s most endearing works is The Gardener’s Year, a learnéd, light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek depiction of the enduring, eccentric gardener, including a “Gardener’s Prayer” that’s almost more of a demand for Eden than an invocation. This illustration from the accompanying pages was drawn by his brother, painter and writer Josef Čapek, who actually coined “robot”.

 O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthus, lavender, and others which You in Your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants-I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like-and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on the gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron) and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no lice or snails, or mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven.

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