Friday, 6 March 2009

The business of Spring

The busy wind opening a tulip for a bee
A children's illustration by Frank Pape from 'At the Back of the North Wind' by George Macdonald
This spring morning broke bright and chilly - I awoke to the sound of birds singing, the dawn chorus so beloved of the summer months. As I walked along later, I noticed how busy the birds have become, nest building - a blackbird with a piece of dried fern, a magpie with twigs - there was a large magpie nest in the tree-lined street I walked along on my way to work.
I thought about how birds are so synonymous with spring and life - every year the same birds appear with their birdsong and business. I saw a robin today on a high branch, its trill song no doubt calling to its mate. The blackbird, tit, chaffinch, sparrow, wren - the crow, jackdaw and magpie. Townie birds all busy and yet .... though they seem the same, they are not the same birds of a year or two ago. I do not know the life span of garden birds but I suspect it is not that long. Their springtime song reminds us that the lifeforce continues, the same renewing cycle - though not the same ..... and we really only have a walk on part.
Work Without Hope
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair -
The bees are stirring - birds are on the wing -
And WINTER slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring !
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.

Bloom, O ye Amaranths ! bloom for whom ye may,
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul ?
WORK WITHOUT HOPE draws nectar in a sieve,
And HOPE without an object cannot live.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge - written 1825
Note: the capitalization in the poem's text is as the poet wrote it.