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.
: 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.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay
It was a good sized frog.
As ever, that glistening motley
wash-leather skin – lemon, green,
yellow, black spots;
it went well with the garden leavings
with the rolled back old carpets,
April leaves, grass, roots in a heap,
it went under, blended in;
its skin matched the land colours.
At first I saw it, after a spade thrust,
then stop, elongate,
as if to show me itself,
unchopped, whole, no missing limb;
as if I’d have sense of it,
come from the beck,
and of where it fitted in.
Nicholas Bradley, 2004
When I got there
I saw eight magpies on one plot,
one perched on a cane or a pole,
they let me get quite near;
it was raining, no-one else
around. I guess the wrens
and long ago hoards of small birds
are edged out. I half hate
these big survivors, half love
their beauty when I see them,
close, by the four foot pink
and off-pink bush; what is it?
I got digging, the odd whinny
of a horse was all this inner city
garden had on its grey six-thirty
soundtrack, as slowly the church
and houses on the hill
sank below street lights;
I had to get out.
Nicholas Bradley, 2004