The Superabundance of Nature
The superabundance of nature in the spring-time takes our breath away as we see new beauty unfolding on all sides. Every field, wood, hedgerow and garden erupting into fresh green. In G.M.Hopkins’ words it is ‘all in a rush with richness‘. We are bewildered by the profusion.
With bird song at a peak. the woods and gardens ring with the sounds of life. Nature, it seems, is exploding into life just now. The sight of a Brimstone butterfly, an Orange Tip, or an early Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in the garden as they search for nectar, just adds to the excitement.
Thanks for joining me for this post. I hope your presence will encourage me to try to do justice to this most wonderful season.
The Bluebell Woods
There are no half measures in nature. Earlier we watched the progression of spring beginning to unfold with the hazel catkins sending forth millions of pollen grains, looking like golden smoke in the spring sunshine. We have had the breathtaking blossom- season adorn hill, vale and hedgerow with colour, like icing on the cake. Now it’s the turn of the bluebells.
Carpeting the ground beneath the woodland trees is this beautiful quilt of bluebells that has waited all year for this moment. They are England’s own May woodland glory, thriving here as nowhere else. They are very well described by one of their other names – ‘pride of the woods‘. John Keats called them “sapphire queen of the mid May‘.
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry
And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.’
From ‘May Magnificat’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins
( ‘greybell’ – the opening bluebells)
Hopkins’ poems are sometimes hard to follow, but the sound of the words ring so beautifully and are so expressive – I love them. He’s another poet who, like George Herbert, never had any of his work published in his life-time, yet has now become one of our great poets. (See link to George Herbert in ‘ Holy Island’)
Nature’s Sublime Extravagance
‘The beauty has been overwhelming: pear and apple blossom overlapped and the profusion and splendour are more than human capacity could appreciate. I used to feel at this season of the year a sense of waste because I could not enjoy at once all that was spread abroad; until one day the overwhelming egotism of looking at it from this point of view occurred to me, and I thought that God might be contemplating it all…’
From the delightful ‘The Cottage Book‘ by Sir Edward Gray
God does not do things by half measures. His generosity is full and running over. He has created all things for his pleasure and yet he graciously shares them with us, his creatures.
“The extravagance is sublime… Nothing utilitarian – everything on a scale of splendid waste. Such noble, broadcast, open-armed waste is delicious to behold……..
Nature flings treasures abroad, puffs them with open lips along (with) every breeze, piles lavish layers of them in free open air, packs countless numbers together in the needles of a fir tree. Prodigality and superfluity are stamped on everything she does.”
From ‘Meadow thoughts’ by Richard Jefferies ( writing in the 19th century)
Jefferies goes on to contrast the open-handed generosity of nature with the meanness and niggardliness of mankind, taking so much out of the world, but putting so little back in return. Shame on us! Especially when, with all this abundance to enjoy, we fail to realise from where such generosity comes.
I do hope you can enjoy some of all this spring glory, while it’s here!