Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spring (April 6, 2018)

Lilacs

By  Amy Lowell   



Lilacs, 


False blue, 


White, 


Purple, 


Color of lilac, 


Your great puffs of flowers 


Are everywhere in this my New England.   


Among your heart-shaped leaves 


Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing   


Their little weak soft songs; 


In the crooks of your branches 


The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs   


Peer restlessly through the light and shadow   


Of all Springs. 


Lilacs in dooryards 


Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;   


Lilacs watching a deserted house 


Settling sideways into the grass of an old road; 


Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom 


Above a cellar dug into a hill. 


You are everywhere. 


You were everywhere. 


You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon, 


And ran along the road beside the boy going to school. 


You stood by the pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,  


You persuaded the housewife that her dishpan was of silver.  


And her husband an image of pure gold.   


You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms   


Through the wide doors of Custom Houses— 


You, and sandal-wood, and tea, 


Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks   


When a ship was in from China. 


You called to them: “Goose-quill men, goose-quill men,   


May is a month for flitting.” 


Until they writhed on their high stools 


And wrote poetry on their letter-sheets behind the propped-up ledgers. 


Paradoxical New England clerks, 


Writing inventories in ledgers, reading the “Song of Solomon” at night, 


So many verses before bed-time, 


Because it was the Bible. 


The dead fed you 


Amid the slant stones of graveyards. 


Pale ghosts who planted you 


Came in the nighttime 


And let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.   


You are of the green sea, 


And of the stone hills which reach a long distance. 


You are of elm-shaded streets with little shops where they sell kites and marbles, 


You are of great parks where every one walks and nobody is at home. 


You cover the blind sides of greenhouses 


And lean over the top to say a hurry-word through the glass   


To your friends, the grapes, inside. 



Lilacs, 


False blue, 


White, 


Purple, 


Color of lilac, 


You have forgotten your Eastern origin,   


The veiled women with eyes like panthers, 


The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled pashas. 


Now you are a very decent flower,   


A reticent flower, 


A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,   


Standing beside clean doorways, 


Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,   


Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight   


And a hundred or two sharp blossoms. 


Maine knows you, 


Has for years and years; 


New Hampshire knows you, 


And Massachusetts 


And Vermont. 


Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;   


Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.   


You are brighter than apples, 


Sweeter than tulips, 


You are the great flood of our souls 


Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,   


You are the smell of all Summers, 


The love of wives and children, 


The recollection of gardens of little children,   


You are State Houses and Charters 


And the familiar treading of the foot to and fro on a road it knows. 


May is lilac here in New England, 


May is a thrush singing “Sun up!” on a tip-top ash tree,   


May is white clouds behind pine-trees   


Puffed out and marching upon a blue sky.   


May is a green as no other, 


May is much sun through small leaves,   


May is soft earth, 


And apple-blossoms, 


And windows open to a South Wind.   


May is full light wind of lilac 


From Canada to Narragansett Bay. 



Lilacs, 


False blue, 


White, 


Purple, 


Color of lilac. 


Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,   


Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,   


Lilac in me because I am New England, 


Because my roots are in it, 


Because my leaves are of it, 


Because my flowers are for it,   


Because it is my country 


And I speak to it of itself 


And sing of it with my own voice   


Since certainly it is mine.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lilacs by Sergei Rachmaninov





Today



By  Billy Collins   



If ever there were a spring day so perfect, 


so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze 



that it made you want to throw 


open all the windows in the house 



and unlatch the door to the canary's cage, 


indeed, rip the little door from its jamb, 



a day when the cool brick paths 


and the garden bursting with peonies 



seemed so etched in sunlight


that you felt like taking 



a hammer to the glass paperweight 


on the living room end table, 



releasing the inhabitants 


from their snow-covered cottage 



so they could walk out, 


holding hands and squinting 



into this larger dome of blue and white, 


well, today is just that kind of day.







After the Winter


By  Claude McKay   



Some day, when trees have shed their leaves


     And against the morning’s white


The shivering birds beneath the eaves


     Have sheltered for the night,


We’ll turn our faces southward, love,


     Toward the summer isle


Where bamboos spire the shafted grove


     And wide-mouthed orchids smile.



And we will seek the quiet hill


     Where towers the cotton tree,


And leaps the laughing crystal rill,


     And works the droning bee.


And we will build a cottage there


     Beside an open glade,


With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,


     And ferns that never fade.




Easter in Pittsburgh


By  James Laughlin   



Even on Easter Sunday   


when the church was a 



jungle of lilies and   


ferns fat Uncle Paul 



who loved his liquor   


so would pound away 



with both fists on the   


stone pulpit shouting 



sin sin sin and the   


fiery fires of hell 



and I cried all after- 


noon the first time I 



heard what they did to   


Jesus it was something 



the children shouldn’t   


know about till they 



were older but the new   


maid told me and both 



of us cried a lot and so   


mother got another one 



right away & she sent   


away Miss Richardson 



who came all the way   


from England because 



she kept telling how   


her fiancé Mr. Bowles- 



Lyon died suddenly of   


a heart attack he just 



said one day at lunch   


I’m afraid I’m not well 



and the next thing they   


knew he was sliding un- 



der the table. Easter   


was nice the eggs were 



silly but the big lilies   


were wonderful & when 



Uncle Paul got so fat   


from drinking that he 



couldn’t squeeze into   


the pulpit anymore & 



had to preach from the   


floor there was an el- 



ders’ meeting and they   


said they would have 



the pulpit rebuilt but   


Uncle Paul said no it 



was the Lord’s manifest   


will and he would pass 



his remaining years in   


sacred studies I liked 



Thanksgiving better be- 


cause that was the day 



father took us down to   


the mills but Easter I 



liked next best and the   


rabbits died because we 



fed them beet tops and   


the lamb pulled up the 



grass by the roots and   


was sold to Mr. Page the 



butcher I asked Uncle   


Robert what were sacred 



studies he said he was   


not really sure but he 



guessed they came in a   


bottle and mother sent 



me away from the table   


when I wouldn’t eat my 



lamb chops that was   


ridiculous she said it 



wasn’t the lamb of God   


it was just Caesar An- 



dromache Nibbles but I   


couldn’t I just couldn’t 



& the year of the strike   


we didn’t go to Church 



at all on Easter because   


they said it wasn’t safe 



down town so instead we   


had prayers in the library



and then right in the mid-


dle the telephone rang it 



was Mr. Shupstead at the   


mill they had had to use 



tear gas father made a   


special prayer right a- 



way for God’s protection   


& mercy and then he sent 



us out to the farm with   


mother we stayed a week 



and missed school but it   


rained a lot and I broke 



the bathroom mirror and   


had to learn a long psalm.



In Perpetual Spring


By  Amy Gerstler   


Gardens are also good places 


to sulk. You pass beds of 


spiky voodoo lilies   


and trip over the roots   


of a sweet gum tree,   


in search of medieval   


plants whose leaves,   


when they drop off   


turn into birds 


if they fall on land, 


and colored carp if they   


plop into water. 



Suddenly the archetypal   


human desire for peace   


with every other species   


wells up in you. The lion   


and the lamb cuddling up. 


The snake and the snail, kissing. 


Even the prick of the thistle,   


queen of the weeds, revives   


your secret belief 


in perpetual spring, 


your faith that for every hurt   


there is a leaf to cure it.

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