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spring

Welcoming fickle April

 

Here in southern Maine we are seeing a haze of green on lawns and buds on forsythia, though old snirt (snow and dirt) is still lying around, and a bit of snow is predicted for tonight. April is National Poetry Month and events abound.  See the Moon Pie Press website for a listing of events involving our poets.

Here is a poem by Erich Kastner (1899-1974), translated from the German by Ruth Bookey and used with her permission.

 

APRIL

 

Rain strums a green Easter melody

with one finger.

The year gets older, yet younger daily.

Oh harmonious contradiction!

 

The moon in his gold jacket

hides behind cloud curtain.

His left cheek is fat, poor thing.

He feels a little foolish.

March was successful:

he sent a full moon into April.

 

Rabbits are hopping,

with paintbrushes, tubes of color

and twitching noses.

Out of hollows and dens,

through gardens and streets,

over lawns, they hop

even in barns and homes.

 

As if it were easy they lay their eggs,

made of nougat, chocolate and marzipan.

The bravest lays a “bonbonniere.” *

He stares into space with determination.

“Bonbonniere” is easier said than done.

 

Next comes the painting.  It takes hours.

Then tying on the silk ribbons.

Hiding places are looked for, found:

behind the stove, under the sofa,

in the wall clock, on the path,

outside under the birch,

in the grandfather clock,

in the closet.

 

The rooster crows morning.

The rabbits disappear.

Windows sparkle in the sun.

A man yawns and leans on his garden gate.

Green fire runs over the slope

covering bushes and trees.

The man thinks spring is coming.

He doesn’t feel wonder or adventure,

he isn’t surprised any more.

 

Isn’t that a tiny paintbrush lying in the grass?

Even this the man doesn’t find unusual.

He didn’t even notice that an Easter rabbit

lost it on his way home.

 

  • Bonbonniere:  box holding bonbons, given on special occasions.

 

forsythia close up

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Not Quite Spring in Maine

It’s still in the 30s here and we had snow showers last night.  I do see tiny buds on my forsythia, and a few brave crocuses have appeared.  April is National Poetry Month;  readings and celebrations are in bloom. Here is a  spring poem by Philip Larkin.

THE TREES

The trees are coming into leaf

Like something almost being said;

The recent buds relax and spread,

Their greenness is a kind of grief.

 

Is it that they are born again

And we grow old? No, they die too,

Their yearly trick of looking new

Is written down in rings of grain.

 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh

In fullgrown thickness every May.

Last year is dead, they seem to say,

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

forsythia 5-1-11

Spring Rain

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Here is a romantic poem by Sara Teasdale – SPRING RAIN

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With that wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say.

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.

THE SCIENCES SING A LULLABY

PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

Finally – spring in New England, and National Poetry Month

daffodils_04

April is always full of poetry events. This year is no exception. I try to list all the ones involving Moon Pie Press poets on the website at http://www.moonpiepress.com. Here is a lovely poem about what sustains some of us through a long winter. It is by former Portland Poet Laureate Bruce Spang, whose latest book from Moon Pie Press is BOY AT THE SCREEN DOOR.

THE COLOR OF FAITH

Minus fifteen degrees, even the thermometer on the deck
recoils under its lid. Like a man with a Bible in a bombed out building,

I unearth a Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog
in the mail. Fields of Allstar Gourmet Lettuce,

mottled rows of purple and green, spread
beneath bare feet of a girl who slices one head

after another like the Queen in Wonderland.
I twist the space heater dial to high and flip

to Amaranthus, with its ropes of deep red,
fold the page; find a new Echinacea, Pallida

with long slender purple petals, fold it.
Colors splash on my lap, yellow tomatoes,

blue aster, pink poppies, and on page
sixty-eight, skins of peppers glistening

as brightly as the snow did this afternoon,
yet sliced open like hearts. Look, there is

Joe Pye Weed that releases a vanilla scent.
Smell it. Write it. Fill in the order form.

Hope is the thing with feathers

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yellow bird on flowering branch

Spring has finally burst out in New England, weeks later than usual. The lilacs are blooming and their scent is everywhere. My white azalea is flowering and the peonies are budding. Here is a poem by Stephen Scaer that my mother sent me recently, a cleverly rhymed take on the “romance” of birdsong.

TO AN EARLY BIRD, MID-JUNE

To-we, To-woo, To-woe! Must you sing
so early, bird? Can these announcements wait
until a better time: say, half-past eight?
You don’t think this cacophony will bring
a friend who’ll share her nest so late in spring?
April’s the month to serenade a mate,
and at the latest, May. Accept your fate:
This summer you’re alone. And please don’t cling
to adolescent hopes these clamorous,
brooding lays could win a hen.
Sincerity won’t make her amorous
this close to fall. It’s hard to come to terms
with passing time. You might see spring again.
But let’s talk after breakfast. Go find worms.

copyright 2014 by Stephen Scaer – from The National Review

Fickle New England spring – and reading

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books crucial

cats in rain

It’s a cliché to say that if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait 15 minutes (I believe this is attributed to Mark Twain), but there’s a lot of truth to it. I set out this afternoon in sun to walk my dog. We got about 10 minutes away from the house and the sky grew black and a tremendous stinging hailstorm swept in. We sheltered the best we could under a pine tree, but got bombarded and soaked. Poor Zoe was scared. A kind neighbor came along in his pickup and offered us a ride home, and didn’t mind a very wet dog in the cab.

I estimate that we’re three weeks behind normal blooming and blossoming times this year. Finally the forsythia, daffodils and tulips are blooming, but it’s May, not April. Now the hail has stopped and it’s raining. Nothing to do but stay inside, have a cup of tea and dive into a book. Sometimes the weather conspires with bibliophiles.