With a dream of spring the countryside and our gardens wait expectantly. This is a creative season bursting with possibilities. There’s poetry in the air.
At any season to walk in a wood is full of interest. But to be enfolded in the delicate green veil of a beech wood in early spring is a delight.
Overhead all is lightness and airiness before the canopy closes in, and underfoot there is the comforting crunch of dried leaves and beech mast, while all around is the fresh smell of a spring wood ready to burst into life again.
But so far this is only a dream. At present the buds have not opened and the wood, still wearing its winter slumber, bears only the dream of spring to come
This time towards Spring is pregnant with promise but it has its own rhythms, the ‘cautious pace of slow- returning spring’ can’t be rushed.
“Now I know that spring will come again.
Perhaps tomorrow: however late I’ve patience.”
Edward Thomas from the poem ‘March’
As a farm field in Surrey awakens from winter slumbers the farmer waits, hoping for a good crop this season. In the distance the woods and hedgerows have been turning colour and the landscape is warmer, kinder now and full of promise.
These are portents of more to come but:
“It is not spring yet. Spring is being dreamed, ……..Catch at the dreams as
they hover in the warm thick air. Up against the grey tiers of beech stems and the mist of the buds and fallen leaves
…….Mixed with them is the myriad stir of unborn things, of leaf and blade and flower, many silences
at heart and root of tree, voices of hope and growth.”
Edward Thomas in ‘South Country’
In the garden we have had the harbingers. Mid- winter daffodils and snowdrops, and in February there were some brief sunny moments of glory when the lawn was ablaze with purple crocus.
March had its Lenten lilies and primroses and the first early tulips with the odd Brimstone butterfly. One settled the other day on my vigorous clump of primrose coloured polyanthus (here) making an exact colour match!
A Song Thrush has been singing its own poetry in song non stop since Feb 12th, as if to make up for an absence in the last two years. In mid March the Blackbird started to sing too.
‘Almost Spring’ has its own beauty. But at nature’s invitation we are like impatient children waiting for something more, promised yet temporarily withheld. We long to say with Wordsworth :”The gates of spring are opened, churlish winter hath given leave…”
However with the winter flowering cherry (below) into its final fling we are almost there.
Spring is Poetry
In a sense spring itself is poetry. It’s hard not to be creative now. Though it’s a season too beautiful for words to do it justice, many poets have stirred our imagination enabling us to see it in a new and deeper way. Wordsworth said that he owed much to his sister Dorothy, no mean poet herself, that she gave him the ‘eyes and ears’ to appreciate nature’s beauty with a listening heart.
No doubt if we all listened less to politicians and the media and more to the poets our world would be a much quieter, kinder, gentler place.
One thing that strikes us when reading the poets like John Clare is a sense of loss. They write of landscapes, birds and animals we no longer see in our countryside today. Theirs is a lost natural world.
The symbolism of turtle doves…their mournful turr-turring, the song of love lost, the stuff of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Spencer, is vanishing into the kingdom of phoenixes and unicorns.”
But as Isabella describes in her book ‘Wilding’ these rare and beautiful birds are now returning to the Knepp estate. At least there:
“….the voice of the turtle(dove) is in the land.” Song of Songs chapter 2 (Old King James Version)
Perhaps we are all dreamers sharing the poets’ nostalgia for a lost Eden.
The present season of Lent reminds me that I, too, am ‘God’s handiwork’ (poem). The New Testament Greek word used is ‘poema’. As one looking forward to a restored Eden, do my ‘verses’ ring true, or do any ‘lines’ mar or jar? Above all do they resonate of Jesus, whose words and whose life was all-of-a-piece, ‘full of grace and truth‘? Something to ponder here I think!