Monday, September 27, 2010

The Maze?

So often visitors here stand on the shepherd's terrace and look down into our Giardino all'Italiana and say, "Oh what a wonderful maze!" But this, in fact, is not a maze at all! Nor is it a labyrinth. In colloquial English labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction, while a labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to its center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to follow and is not meant to confuse you. The garden above is inspired by the old Italian gardens of the Renaissance, though its origins are in ancient Persia. It's center is life, the spirit, the source, and your way to it is self-evident.

This, at Longleat House in Wiltshire is truly a maze. Being a bit clostrophobic I'm not sure I would set out to solve the puzzle, even with these convenient bridges and lookouts to help you plan your course. But if ever there were a "wonderful maze," this then is surely it!

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