WordsDay – welcome, spring!

daffodil.jpg While spring may have only recently made its appearance in some parts of the country, here in the Sunny South it’s been springtime for several weeks already. The proliferation of blossoming dogwood, cherry, and redbud trees puts one in mind of poetry about spring. So let’s start with those most famous of lines about enchanted April, Chaucer’s opening to the Canterbury Tales:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath percèd to the roote,
And bathèd every veyn in swich licoúr,
From which vertu engendred is the flour;
When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Enspirèd hath in every holte and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe course yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodie,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye,
So pricketh hem natúre in hir coráges:—
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimàges,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry landes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That them hath holpen when that they were seeke.

Next we leap forward to a celebration of April showers from another poet who plays fast and loose with the artificial construct we call grammar, ee cummings:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddyandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


baloonMan whistles

Finally, where would we be if we didn’t include that poet of nature, William Wordsworth? Here’s his paean to my favorite flower:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Season’s Greetings…

Categories: Arts/Literature

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9 replies »

  1. Sweet jesus, I still know every syllable of that Chaucer prologue by heart. And it’s been 30 years since you forced me to memorize it, you bastard.

  2. ahhhhh, that ee cummings poem i despise the man for grammer his utter lack of capitalization punctuation everyone who emulates his style

    even badly
    like this

    but his poems are still amazing

  3. Sam,

    He made you MEMORIZE Chaucer in middle English???? And you didn’t drop the class?

    What the hell’s the matter with you?

  4. Okay, JS, think about it. You know where I went to school. And you’ve dealt with Booth. So you know that memorizing Chaucer in Middle English was superior to the BEST that any of the other teachers would have had to offer. Jeez, you should have met some of those harridans…

  5. Let’s see – making students memorize something so that one of the greatest poems in the language stays with many of them, especially the best of them, them for 30+ years deserves a punch-up?

    Gee, I thought you liked larnin, JS… 😉