Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Cold Spring

—Anonymous Photo

—Elizabeth Bishop

Nothing is so beautiful as spring. 

            —Gerard Manley Hopkins

A cold spring:

the violet was flawed on the lawn.

For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;

the little leaves waited,

carefully indicating their characteristics.

Finally a grave green dust

settled over your big and aimless hills.

One day, in a chill white blast of sunshine,

on the side of one a calf was born.

The mother stopped lowing

and took a long time eating the after-birth,

a wretched flag,

but the calf got up promptly

and seemed inclined to feel gay.

The next day

was much warmer.

Greenish-white dogwood infiltrated the wood,

each petal burned, apparently, by a cigarette-butt;

and the blurred redbud stood

beside it, motionless, but almost more

like movement than any placeable color.

Four deer practiced leaping over your fences.

The infant oak-leaves swung through the sober oak.

Song-sparrows were wound up for the summer,

and in the maple the complementary cardinal

cracked a whip, and the sleeper awoke,

stretching miles of green limbs from the south.

In his cap the lilacs whitened,

then one day they fell like snow.

Now, in the evening,

a new moon comes.

The hills grow softer. Tufts of long grass show

where each cow-flop lies.

The bull-frogs are sounding,
slack strings plucked by heavy thumbs.

Beneath the light, against your white front door,

the smallest moths, like Chinese fans,

flatten themselves, silver and silver-gilt

over pale yellow, orange, or gray.

Now, from the thick grass, the fireflies

begin to rise:

up, then down, then up again:

lit on the ascending flight,

drifting simultaneously to the same height,

—exactly like the bubbles in champagne.

—Later on they rise much higher.

And your shadowy pastures will be able to offer
these particular glowing tributes

every evening now throughout the summer.