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Equinox

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blossoms

The vernal equinox was four hours ago here in the northern hemisphere. In honor of that, here's my traditional quote, my favorite bit of Swinburne:

For winter's rains and ruins are over,

And all the season of snows and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remember'd is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

—Algernon Charles Swinburne, from “Atalanta in Calydon” (1865)

On looking back over the years I've posted this, I see that in a lot of years (a) friends and/or I are having a rough time this time of year, and (b) winter's rains (and snows) and ruins aren't over yet by the time the equinox rolls around. Which has often made me hesitant to post this.

This year, too, I'm a little reluctant to be overly celebratory, especially 'cause I gather some of y'all are still digging yourselves out from vast quantities of snow; and yet, this year, the verse is feeling like something worth posting.

In fact, this year I think I'll add Swinburne's next verse, which sounds like a little later in the year, but y'know, poetry can be aspirational:

The full streams feed on flower of rushes,

Ripe grasses trammel a travelling foot,

The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes

From leaf to flower and flower to fruit;

And fruit and leaf are as gold and fire,

And the oat is heard above the lyre,

And the hoofed heel of a satyr crushes

The chestnut-husk at the chestnut-root.

May as well also add some other things I've posted in previous years, like this bit from Winter's Tale—the scene is in early summer, but close enough:

The silence of the trees and quiescence of the wind were nature's hope and disbelief that winter had passed, a time when the wild terrain holds its breath before rejoicing, for fear of calling back the bright blue northerns and the snow.

—Mark Helprin, from Winter's Tale, p. 262 of the 1984 Pocket edition

Here's an older piece of spring verse:

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.

—Tu Fu, from “A Spring View” (c. 750), trans. Witter Bynner

And I'll close with a more recent snippet:

now, the flowers are fresh and plentiful

time to wash windows, strip off winter's forgetfulness,

come to terms and to some kind of truce

—Margaret James, from “March 18” (2007)

(Photo is of a tree in my front yard, March 3, 2015, slightly enhanced by an Instagram filter.)

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