Friday, May 12, 2017

Leaving the equinox, heading toward the solstice

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of Spring, though in our part of the world the daffodils are long gone and the azaleas have faded into memory. But the magnolias are blooming early this year and we await the arrival of the pink mimosa. New life abounds. Calves and lambs are filling the pastures. It is most definitely Spring.

Perhaps Tennyson said it best in Locksley Hall:

"In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

Some wag (not I) wrote, "Ah, Spring, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of what the young ladies have been thinking about all winter."

Be that as it may, I discovered a wonderful poem by Robert Lax (1915 - 1970), who was known in particular for his association with the 20th-century Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton. The poem was first published in The New Yorker magazine on May 5, 1940, and it appeared recently on the Writer's Almanac site:

Greeting to Spring (Not Without Trepidation)
by Robert Lax

Over the back of the Florida basker,
over the froth of the Firth of Forth,
Up from Tahiti and Madagascar,
Lo, the sun walks north.

The first bright day makes sing the slackers
While leaves explode like firecrackers,
The duck flies forth to greet the spring
And sweetly municipal pigeons sing.

Where the duck quacks, where the bird sings,
We will speak of past things.

Come out with your marbles, come out with your Croup,
The grass is as green as a Girl Scout troop;
In the Mall the stone acoustics stand
Like a listening ear for the Goldman band.

At an outside table, where the sun’s bright glare is,
We will speak of darkened Paris.

Meanwhile, like attendants who hasten the hoofs
Of the ponies who trot in the shadow of roofs,
The sun, in his running, will hasten the plan
Of plants and fishes, beast and man.

We’ll turn our eyes to the sogging ground
And guess if the earth is cracked or round.

Over the plans of the parties at strife,
Over the planes in the waiting north,
Over the average man and his wife,
Lo, the sun walks forth!

I can't quite put my finger on why, but something about this poem simultaneously reminds me of Sidney Lanier's The Song of the Chattahoochee and T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, even though neither one covers the same subject matter. I just find certain synapses firing in my brain.

Meanwhile, out there in the real world, life goes on, or not. People are born; people die. Roads are built; bridges collapse. One day our time here will end as well. Until then, enjoy the never-ending changes that accompany our planet's orbit around the sun as best you can.


  1. Thought provoking posts are my favorite. I also believe in living now. It is okay to look back with fondness. It is okay to put a bit of thought to the future. But it is always now. Now is what we are meant to experience.

  2. Intriguing. And J. Alfred's love song is one of my favourite poems.
    On this side of the world autumn has finally pushed her sweaty sister out of the way and is being edged out herself by winter.
    All good.