06 November 2013

The Coming of Spring - An 1867 Poem

By James Russell Lowell.
First come the black-birds chattering in tall trees,
And settling things in windy congresses, —
'Ere long the trees begin to show belief, —
The maple crimsons is a coral reef,
Then saffron swarms swing off from all the willows.
So plump, they look like yellow caterpillars,
Then gray horse-chestnuts little hands unfold,
Soft as a baby's are at three day-old;
This is the robin's almanac; he knows
That after this there's only blossom snows;
So choosing out a handy crotch and spouse,
He goes to plastering his adobe house.
Then seems to come a hitch — things lag behind,
'Till some fine morning, Spring makes up her mind,
And as, when snow swelled rivers crush their dams
Heaped up with ice that dove-tails in and jams,
A leak comes spurting through some pin-hole cleft,
Grows stronger, fiercer, tears out right and left;
Then all the waters bow themselves and come,
Sudden in one great slope of shuddering foam,
Just so our Spring gets everything in tune,
And gives one great leap from April into June;
Then all comes crowding in; before you think.
The oak buds mist the side-hill woods with pink,
The cat bird in the lilac bush is loud,
In elm-tree shrouds the flashing hang-bird clings,
And for the summer voyage his hammock slings.
All down the loose-walled lanes and arching bowers,
The barberry droops its strings of golden flowers;
Whose shrinking hearts the school girls love to try
With pins, — they'll worry yours so, by and by!
But lo! June's bridesman, poet of the year,
Gladness on wings, the bobolink is here;
Half hid in tip-top apple blossoms he swings,
Of climbs against the breeze with quavering wings,
Or, giving way to't in a mock despair,
Runs down, a brook of laughter, through the air.
April 11, 1867. Highland Weekly News 30(51): 1. Done into common English, from the Yankee of the "Biglow Papers," by the Editor of the Ohio Farmer.