Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's what's on my mind on the first day of spring

"Daffodils that come before the swallow dares,
and takes the winds of March with beauty."
~ William Shakespeare

Today is the first day of spring.

"Spring has returned," the early 20th century Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote. "The Earth is like a child who knows poems."

And, spring conjures up pleasant memories of walking through St. James's Park in London this time of year in 2005 and 2007 enjoying the pleasant sight of daffodils.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, spring arrived on March 20 with neither a bang nor a whimper. As I look up from my MacBook Pro and glance out the dining room window of our house, I can see the sun is desperately trying to peek through the cloudy skies. Yet, there is the possibility of a sprinkle or two in today's forecast, too. Unsettled like everything else in the world these days, right?

We're expecting a daytime high of about 60 degrees (16C), which easily bests Seattle's 46 degrees (8C), and it's warmer than what we've experienced the past few days. However, our temperature and forecast pales in comparison to what my friends in Belgrade (67F, 19C) and Tunis (70F, 21C) experienced today in their first day of spring.

Spring is full of optimism ~ think baseball ~ and its annual arrival at this time of the year leaves chilly winter memories behind. Thankfully, spring has been widely rhapsodized in poetry for many centuries by Shakespeare and Wordsworth, among many poets.

Ultimately, whether sun or rain greets the arrival of spring, poetry does seem right for the occasion of celebrating the first day of the new season.

A Prayer in Spring
By Robert Frost (1915)

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Photograph of daffodils in a vase by Michael Dickens, copyright 2012.

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