Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring (Christina Rossetti)

I know I just posted a Rossetti poem a few days ago, but firstly, it's the day she is commemorated on the Episcopal calendar (though her actual feast day is in December), and secondly, this is another beautiful poem. I love the way she plays with words and sounds. Don't you enjoy the music in the lines "Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,/What shall make their sap ascend/That they may put forth shoots?" and "There is no time like Spring,/When life's alive in everything/Before new nestlings sing..."

This woman instinctively understood seasons and what they could represent to human hearts and souls. I was going to say she instinctively understood spring, but given that this is the same poet who gave us "In the Bleak Midwinter" I think her understanding goes deeper than that. I also find it interesting that though she died in December, she is remembered in April. And it hit me with great force this year, as I glanced at a brief biography, that she died of cancer at the age of 64.

What I love about her seasonal poems is that she often connects them, sometimes subtly and sometimes clearly, to the deep realities of incarnation, birth, death, resurrection. I am grateful to her for that. She read the book of nature fluently, and sang it beautifully for the rest of us.



Frost-locked all the winter,
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death.

Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

There is no time like Spring,
When life's alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track -
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack, -
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, -
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.

~Christina Georgina Rossetti

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