April 5th, 2013
Something there is that doesn't love a wall, says Robert Frost, as he tries to repair one in the spring after a hard winter.
Something there is that loves these first days of April. In Colorado it's the first sign that Narnia has not taken hold, as it mostly seems during the long months of snow and ice and nary a bright lamp post. I saw some orange crocus yesterday and felt like Wordsworth in sight of his famous daffodils. He wrote that poem in 1807, over two hundred years ago, and yet the same things stir the human heart. For all the long path we have come in the pursuit of reason and technology, these simple reminders of our place in nature are what strike the deepest chord.
Here's the last stanza:
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.
Wordsworth wrote volumes of poetry, much of it very good, but this remains the best known, this one poem about daffodils.
I'm thinking about poetry, because it seems the best vehicle for expressing an exuberance over spring. The last thing you want to do is analyse it; the first thing you want to do is take it to the verge of the spoken word, which is where poetry lives and moves and has its being.
Another English poet, and not much later, Gerard Manley Hopkins went there with a Scottish scene at Inversnaid:
Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the bead bonny ash that sits over the burn.
(If you wonder what "degged" means, you're not alone, but you'd have to saw off the top of Hopkins' head and dig around inside to find the answer. That's why I say poetry exists in that fringe land where as Wittgenstein says, "What cannot be said must be passed over in silence." Poetry is almost silence, at least it should be. A lot of free form or modern poetry is so much chatter.)
I used to be a poet - that's how I started out as a writer, and perhaps I will be one again when my world creeps back into silence. It's a lonely road, though, and one I have chosen not to lead during life's more demanding middle years. Novels are chatter with enough still points to count as art. They will do for now. Film is an even noisier medium, and that's why there's money to be made in celluloid and nothing at all to be made in the silent pockets. We are a busy race with only a whispered memory of the value of saying nothing.