Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, ‘I love and I love!’
In the winter they’re silent — the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving — all come back together.
But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings: and for ever sings he —
‘I love my Love, and my Love loves me!’
I came across this bit of Coleridge in the Children’s Book of Verse I was reading to Olivia this morning. It’s the same book I had as a child, with illustrations by Eric Kincaid. I remember the pictures of Tennyson’s mermaid and merman, dreamy in undersea green and purple, and Jack Frost and Winter the Huntsman, spangled and delicate in silver and snow white. But it was this bit of spring carolling that caught my eye today. I’ve been watching the buds and blossoms, the beginnings of leaflife on all our neighbouring trees. Some of the cherries, peaches and other blossomers are finished already. The Japanese maple and the claret ash finally have their first tiny fronds. I’m not quite as attentive to birdsong, though I hear our local birds — magpies, mynahs, crows — begin when I’m awake as the sun rises, putting the baby back to bed, hoping for another hour or so of sleep. For my own sake as much as Olivia’s, I call our attention — hers glancing, peripatetic; mine fragmented, addled by media — to these birds and buds, gracing our garden with their slow unfolding. Helping her notice this waking world and its green resurrection, bringing it to the blooming, singsong regions of her imagination, is one of the deeper joys of this season, this springtime of her life and mine.