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April 16, 2013
 

Spring in Verse, In Romania and In Song

Every spring on March 1, Romanians celebrate ‘Martisor’-- a spring holiday through which they celebrate the rebirth of life after the hard winter. On this day, men offer to their beloved women flowers and martisors (the symbol of serenity and happiness).

Every spring on March 1, Romanians celebrate ‘Martisor’– a spring holiday through which they celebrate the rebirth of life after the hard winter. On this day, men offer to their beloved women flowers and martisors (the symbol of serenity and happiness).

 

A Spring View

Tu Fu (c. 750, trans. Witter Bynner, 1920)

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;

And spring comes green again to trees and grasses

Where petals have been shed like tears

And lonely birds have sung their grief.

…After the war-fires of three months,

One message from home is worth a ton of gold.

…I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin

To hold the hairpins any more.

 

Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day

Li Po (c. 750, trans. Arthur Waley, 1919)

“Life in the World is but a big dream;

I will not spoil it by any labour or care.”

So saying, I was drunk all the day,

Lying helpless at the porch in front of my door.

When I woke up, I blinked at the garden-lawn;

A lonely bird was singing amid the flowers.

I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine?

The Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.

Moved by its song I soon began to sigh,

And as wine was there I filled my own cup.

Wildly singing I waited for the moon to rise;

When my song was over, all my senses had gone.

The tradition’s origins go back to Dacian times (Romanians’ ancestors). It was previously called “dachia dragobete”--the end of winter. The pin-charm were made during the winter months and worn after March 1st. In earlier times, the Dacians would hang little coins from a thin, twisted black and white wool rope. The coin type--gold, silver, or metal--dictated the individuals social status or wealth. The coin charms were originally used to provide both luck for the future and protection from the environment to the wearer. The ropes stood for the advent of summer, warmth, and regeneration (white), while intertwined with the constant presence of winter, cold, and death (black). The amulets were also believed to enhance fertility, provide beauty and prevent sunburn in women. Young girls even threw the amulets toward the sun to prevent freckles. They were worn on the wrist or pinned over the heart. Many wore the pins until trees began to bloom, hanging the amulets in the tree branches after that point.

The tradition’s origins go back to Dacian times (Romanians’ ancestors). It was previously called “dachia dragobete”–the end of winter. The pin-charm were made during the winter months and worn after March 1st. In earlier times, the Dacians would hang little coins from a thin, twisted black and white wool rope. The coin type–gold, silver, or metal–dictated the individuals social status or wealth. The coin charms were originally used to provide both luck for the future and protection from the environment to the wearer. The ropes stood for the advent of summer, warmth, and regeneration (white), while intertwined with the constant presence of winter, cold, and death (black). The amulets were also believed to enhance fertility, provide beauty and prevent sunburn in women. Young girls even threw the amulets toward the sun to prevent freckles. They were worn on the wrist or pinned over the heart. Many wore the pins until trees began to bloom, hanging the amulets in the tree branches after that point.

 

Corinna’s Going a-Maying

by Robert Herrick (1648)

Get up, get up for shame! The blooming morn

Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.

   See how Aurora throws her fair

   Fresh-quilted colours through the air:

   Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see

   The dew bespangling herb and tree!

Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east

Above an hour since, yet you not drest;

   Nay! not so much as out of bed?

   When all the birds have matins said

   And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,

   Nay, profanation, to keep in,

Whereas a thousand virgins on this day

Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen

To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,

   And sweet as Flora. Take no care

   For jewels for your gown or hair:

   Fear not; the leaves will strew

   Gems in abundance upon you:

Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,

Against you come, some orient pearls unwept.

   Come, and receive them while the light

   Hangs on the dew-locks of the night:

   And Titan on the eastern hill

   Retires himself, or else stands still

Till you come forth! Wash, dress, be brief in praying:

Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come; and coming, mark

How each field turns a street, each street a park,

   Made green and trimm’d with trees! see how

   Devotion gives each house a bough

   Or branch! each porch, each door, ere this,

   An ark, a tabernacle is,

Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove,

As if here were those cooler shades of love.

   Can such delights be in the street

   And open fields, and we not see ’t?

   Come, we’ll abroad: and let’s obey

   The proclamation made for May,

And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;

But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

There’s not a budding boy or girl this day

But is got up and gone to bring in May.

   A deal of youth ere this is come

   Back, and with white-thorn laden home.

   Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream,

   Before that we have left to dream:

And some have wept and woo’d, and plighted troth,

And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:

   Many a green-gown has been given,

   Many a kiss, both odd and even:

   Many a glance, too, has been sent

   From out the eye, love’s firmament:

Many a jest told of the keys betraying

This night, and locks pick’d: yet we’re not a-Maying!

Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,

And take the harmless folly of the time!

   We shall grow old apace, and die

   Before we know our liberty.

   Our life is short, and our days run

   As fast away as does the sun.

And, as a vapour or a drop of rain,

Once lost, can ne’er be found again,

   So when or you or I are made

   A fable, song, or fleeting shade,

   All love, all liking, all delight

   Lies drown’d with us in endless night.

Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,

Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying

In modern times, the amulets also became symbols of love. The black ropes were replaced with red. The delicate wool ropes are still handmade in the countryside. People comb out the wool, dye the floss, and twist it into thousands of tassels. In certain areas the amulets are still made with black and white ropes--for warding off evil!

In modern times, the amulets also became symbols of love. The black ropes were replaced with red. The delicate wool ropes are still handmade in the countryside. People comb out the wool, dye the floss, and twist it into thousands of tassels. In certain areas the amulets are still made with black and white ropes–for warding off evil!

 

Spring Quiet

Christina Rossetti (from Verses, 1847)

Gone were but the Winter,

  Come were but the Spring,

I would go to a covert

  Where the birds sing.

Where in the whitethom

  Singeth a thrush,

And a robin sings

  In the holly-bush.

Full of fresh scents

  Are the budding boughs

Arching high over

  A cool green house:

Full of sweet scents,

  And whispering air

Which sayeth softly:

  “We spread no snare;

“Here dwell in safety,

  Here dwell alone,

With a clear stream

  And a mossy stone.

“Here the sun shineth

  Most shadily;

Here is heard an echo

  Of the far sea,

  Though far off it be.”

‘Spring’s in the air/there’s magic everywhere/when you’re young and in love’: Ruby and the Romantics, ‘When You’re Young and In Love’ (1964)

 

Poem to Spring in a Time of Global Warming

by Michael Graves

The withholding spring,

The long-delayed,

The miser-like who will not spend

The wealth of warmth and light,

Or open up the long-denied,

Season most desired,

Salve for the wind and ice oppressed,

Yearned-for spring,

Is like a god

Who will not send a sacred child,

But unlike an omnipotent deity

Spring is neither doubted in its essence

Nor blasphemed against

By those who suffer winter’s bite.

©2012, Michael Graves

‘A million tomorrows shall all pass away/’ere I forget all the joy that is mine today…’: the New Christy Minstrels, ‘Today’ (May, 1964)

 

Spring Vow

by Larissa Shmailo

We will love like dogwood.

Kiss like cranes.

Die like moths.

I promise.

©2007, Larissa Shmailo

 

Spring 1946

by Ingrid Toth

People were finally smiling again;

trees were starting to sprout in our lane,

but not only were we blessed with spring,

near our house reigned the American king.

The Russians were ordered to move away,

occupy our factories, they now may.

Rape and starvation and chaos were gone

and we breathed freely again in our zone.

American soldiers walked through the streets,

whistling and smiling and passing out treats,

sweet candy and chocolate and chewing gum;

to fine ice-cream parties they let us come.

One of the soldiers I’ll never forget;

he brought me food, clothing and even a pet;

and what touched my battered heart the most,

he stilled the anguish the Russians had caused,

reaping no reward when he dried my tears;

with kindness he scattered my painful fears.

I still dream of the princely American,

who made me believe in goodness again.

©2007, Ingrid Toth

 

Lines Written in Early Spring

William Wordsworth (1798)

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:–

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?

Dusty Springfield, ‘Stay Awhile’ (May 1964)

 

[in Just-]

e. e. cummings (1920)

in Just-

spring          when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it’s

spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old balloonman whistles

far          and          wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s

spring

and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan          whistles

far

and

wee

 

A Little Madness in the Spring (1333)

Emily Dickinson

A little madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,

But God be with the Clown —

Who ponders this tremendous scene —

This whole Experiment of Green —

As if it were his own!