In the springing of the year

Since today's a proper spring day, and I'm sitting in our garden where there are bees in the rosemary and in the apple blossom, here's Robert Frost's “A prayer in Spring.” It seems strange to have to ask for pleasure in a beautiful spring day, but it's true we often need reminding to take pleasure when it's offered, to find happiness in what's given, and to keep ourselves here.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.


So many kinds of yes

So much for Spring. After a warm weekend, it's wild and cold and the rain's hardly stopped since yesterday. Despite, or to spite, the weather, here's a glorious spring poem by e e cummings. Viva sweet love indeed.

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there’s nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

In the greenwood quires the thrush

Spring comes quietly but surely. The days are longer and warmer, the blossoms are profuse. We're not quite out of the chill, and no doubt it will get cold again, perhaps even freezing, between now and summer, but the calendar says spring, so spring it is. Winter now has notice to vacate. I've looked at lots of spring poems but the one that caught me was Robert Louis Stevenson's “A Spring Carol.” It has the requisite gush and flutter of spring delight, the panoply of plants and creatures spring calls up, but it also has a lovely, musy meter. The song of the meadow. Heartsease.

When loud by landside streamlets gush,
And clear in the greenwood quires the thrush,
With sun on the meadows
And songs in the shadows
Comes again to me
The gift of the tongues of the lea,
The gift of the tongues of meadows.

Straightway my olden heart returns
And dances with the dancing burns;
It sings with the sparrows;
To the rain and the (grimy) barrows
Sings my heart aloud -
To the silver-bellied cloud,
To the silver rainy arrows.

It bears the song of the skylark down,
And it hears the singing of the town;
And youth on the highways
And lovers in byways
Follows and sees:
And hearkens the song of the leas
And sings the songs of the highways.

So when the earth is alive with gods,
And the lusty ploughman breaks the sod,
And the grass sings in the meadows,
And the flowers smile in the shadows,
Sits my heart at ease,
Hearing the song of the leas,
Singing the songs of the meadows.

The descending blue

Of all the images that come with Christmas, the one that's been in my mind this time is that of a seed. A tiny seed sprung from another world, struck into our old soil. Breaking through it, growing to fruit and shade - graft, and gift. So, rather than a poem of bleak midwinter, or Christmastide, it's Hopkins' “Spring” that I think of today. 

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling. 
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


I can't resist posting a poem I received this week from a small girl I know. Her teacher told her it was too short; I wonder if William Carlos Williams had the same trouble at school? She wrote it for my fridge, on which I wouldn't want a poem any longer. It's called “Spring,” and it's written in deliciously curly letters. Enjoy.


graceful. colourful

dreaming, singing, growing

a magical time