Spring is here!
Spring is here!
Spring is the loveliest time of the year.
Flowers are blooming,
Children are gay,
Everything’s here for a wonderful day.
This was the first poem I ever wrote. I was eight years old and at first I was inordinately proud of it. In fact, it was actually published in the Vancouver Province’s Tillicum Club column! However, my smugness was brief because, although my mother said the verse was very nice, my older brother claimed I could not have written it. “A kid would never use the word gay,” he insisted. At that time the word “gay” meant merry or bright but I knew my brother was correct: it wasn’t a word that a kid would use. I’d chosen it because it was the only word I could think of that rhymed with “day,” and it sounded wrong.
I never wrote another poem about spring, but I’ve read a great many that others have written: Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Robert Herrick, John Dryden, AE Houseman, William Wordsworth. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare. Almost every poet has written about spring.
I like Blake’s poem from his 1789 collection Songs of Innocence which begins:
Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,—
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year…
While writing about the beauty of spring, many have portrayed the season as bittersweet because it cannot last and brings with it memories of loss or regret. But one poet, ee cummings, wrote a number of poems about spring that were always filled with joy. Indeed, some have referred to cummings as “the poet of spring” because of his love of the season.
Here’s my favourite of his many spring poems:
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and fro moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.
As the days become longer, warmer and sunnier, and as new blooms and blossoms appear every day, I find myself feeling some of the same enthusiasm I felt as a child. The coming of spring brings with it the sensation of coming alive. The French word epanouissement seems to best describe this time of blossoming and flowering and renewal. For me, it’s much like the gusto one experiences after having a very bad cold, or flu, or Covid, and then, suddenly, waking up and feeling well once again.
It reminds me of Wendell Berry’s wonderful poem which advises: “Put your faith in the two inches of humus/that will build under the trees/
every thousand years” and “Practice resurrection.”
The whole manifesto is worth reading and is here: https://ag.arizona.edu/~steidl/Liberation.html
We sometimes need to take a break from the news of war, violence and hatred and from the discussions of the IPCC report and the gloomy predictions about the future of our planet. At this time of year, I find it helps to stop and stare at the natural world. Watching the growing greenness, the flourishing bushes and the re-appearance of birds helps me feel hopeful about what the future may hold.
Spring is here! Profitez du printemps! Happy Spring!