Sunday, February 28, 2010

far and wee

in Just-
spring..........when the world is mud-
luscious the little lame balloonman

whistles.....far.......and wee

and eddyandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old baloonman whistles
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


Spring is slowly raising her head here in Sussex. She's a bit out of sorts this year, having been lulled by the easy rhythm of previous years, she allowed her hedonistic half brother, Winter, to seduce her into complacency and allowed him to run riot. She is just now opening a bleary eye and pushing up some tentative crocus, whereas, by now, the daffodils are usually in full bloom.

But where Winter is simply an opportunistic conniver here, in New York he is an absolute bully, beating down his frail sister with frozen fist, spreading his cold carnage over the land with malicious glee. In Upstate, Spring is a time of disappointment and false hope. Winter, the brute, teases Spring with the occasional peek into the world and sometimes allows her to place a tentative foot on the earth only to beat her back with the blizzard bat.

And when spring finally does escape his cold grasp, she can't frolic about the countryside in lazy abandon, instead, she bursts upon the landscape in a riot of color, because she knows her time is short. She has scant weeks between that happy day when Winter loses his icy grip on her and before she is lost in Summer's hot, humid and bug-ridden embrace. So she doesn't amble, she whirls like a dervish, spreading herself across the land until the earth explodes in color.

It makes for a vivid few weeks, a time of tulips and blue bells, when the air is fresh and the world is mud-luscious.

It usually happens around the last week of April.

But wherever you are, spring will arrive eventually. So I'll close now with that promise, offered in another poem by e e cummings:

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
........fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

.............thou answerest

them only with



  1. Anonymous9:19 PM

    April has been the nicest month of the year each of my three previous years living here, and I'm hoping for a fourth.

  2. I think we're due after this winter.

  3. Ah, but don't forget the words of that other notable American expat, T.S. Eliot:

    "April is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain."


  4. Ah, to be in England, now that April is here... ;)

  5. Ah yes indeed, good ol' Browning, himself expatriated when he wrote that!

    Chaucer also takes an up-beat view of April:

    "Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
    The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
    Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
    Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
    The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
    Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, [...]"

  6. Reading TSE's and GC's verses quoted above again, I think Eliot must have had Chaucer's in mind when he wrote his in 'The Wasteland'.

    A quiz for you Mike, and/or for your good readers: What links Chaucer and Eliot (with regard to subjects written about, tenuously)?

  7. Well, other than the obvious--they both wrote about April--I'm sure I don't know. Not really up on my Chaucer these days. I'll have to leave this one for my readers.

    And if no one gets it in a few days, post the answer--don't leave us hanging ;)

  8. > don't leave us hanging ;)

    I won't, Mike.

    Would a clue help?

  9. Seeing as how I'm clueless, yes ;)

  10. Okay, a clue which might help you to see a link between GC and TSE:

    A play by Jean Anouilh.

  11. Canterbury - Chaucer for The Canterbury Tales, Anouilh for Beckett, and Eliot for Murder in the Cathedral.

  12. Thanks Molly! You just saved me hours of Google-research ;)

  13. Well done Molly! That's correct:

    Anouilh wrote a play called Becket (a film was made of the play in 1964, starring those splendid topers Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole -- it won an Oscar and several nominations).

    T. S. Eliot wrote a verse play also about Thomas Becket titled Murder in the Cathedral, about the murder of St Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, by three knights of Henry II in 1170.

    And Chaucer? Well, by the late 14th century when he wrote the Canterbury Tales, the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral had become a pilgrimage destination. As the Prologue to the Tales says:

    "Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
    And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
    To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
    And specially from every shires ende
    Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
    The hooly blisful martir for to seke [...]"

    The 'holy blissful martyr' is of course Thomas Becket, and Chaucer's characters are all off to visit his tomb in Canterbury, swapping yarns as they go .

    A cigar for Molly when she returns from Hawai'i!

  14. And thanks to Mike for letting me pose the quiz question!

  15. And thanks for the quiz, Howard!