The sun was warm but the wind was chill,
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still
You’re one month on in the month of May.
But if you so much as date to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
A week ago I had a fire
To warm my feet, my hands and face;
Cold winds, that never make a friend,
Crept in and out of every place.
Today the fields are rich in grass,
And buttercups in thousands grow;
I’ll show the world where I have been–
With gold-dust seen on either shoe.
Till to my garden back I come,
Where bumble-bees for hours and hours
Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums,
To wriggle out of hollow flowers.
William Henry Davies
Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
: Lucy Newlyn, from Ginnel
Mouths bloodied purple, fingers antennae
trembling for the touch of hidden fruit –
foragers scouring the hinterland,
eyes skinned for dark swell of berry.
Our days are long, and battle-scarred
with brambling. Brummels lade our nights;
all our tomorrows are a hooked tunnel
of bummelkites. We move hungrily
among edges, hunting for certainties:
scavengers off a darkened street,
in the sacred lore of blackberries.
We love beck-sides, and derelict places
where branches scramble out of sight –
behind nettles, under hawthorns, sidling
through bracken. We are long-armed
with reaching for the woody stems
that clamber at an immense height.
But most of all we love the brambles
arching spindly over walls in ginnels –
stray offerings from untidy ends of gardens,
bending with plump black weight.
Lucy Newlyn, from Ginnel
It’s not the case, though some might wish it so
Who from a window watch the blizzard blow
White riot through their branches vague and stark,
That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark.
They take affliction in until it jells
To crystal ice between their frozen cells,
And each of them is inwardly a vault
Of jewels rigorous and free of fault,
Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears
A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires.
: Matsuo Basho, Translated by Robert Hass
First day of spring–
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn.
Translated by Robert Hass
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.
Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly!–faster
Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone!
Tomatoes rosy as perfect baby’s buttocks,
eggplants glossy as waxed fenders,
purple neon flawless glistening
peppers, pole beans fecund and fast
growing as Jack’s Viagra-sped stalk,
big as truck tire zinnias that mildew
will never wilt, roses weighing down
a bush never touched by black spot,
brave little fruit trees shouldering up
their spotless ornaments of glass fruit:
I lie on the couch under a blanket
of seed catalogs ordering far
too much. Sleet slides down
the windows, a wind edged
with ice knifes through every crack.
Lie to me, sweet garden-mongers:
I want to believe every promise,
to trust in five pound tomatoes
and dahlias brighter than the sun
that was eaten by frost last week.
: William Carlos Williams
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
William Carlos Williams