{Sun 18 April 2010}   Spring Poetry
Spring Poetry

“Spring Transformations” was the original theme for Saturday’s reading. I was a little worried that we might end up with a round of sickly sweet “positive” poems, but as it turned out, none of us brought poems specifically to do with change and renewal. These ideas are always associated with spring, along with youth, innocence, idealism and hope, but most of us found poems with “a shadow over them” as the poets looked back with a mixture of pleasure and regret on past springs. Perhaps, as none of us are exactly “spring things” ourselves, we are attracted to poems that have a more complex view of this season.

My favourite amongst those shared was the gorgeous Nocturne of Remembered Spring by Conrad Aiken. This is a bittersweet poem, capturing all of the above themes, but from the perspective of one looking back on the promise and potential of a path not taken.

Other poems shared included:

  • Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, From you have I been absent in the spring, a poem of longing where the lover declares that despite the spring all about, winter remains for him while he is separated from his lover.
  • Men ask the way to Cold Mountain (scroll down to read stanzas 6-8) by Han Shan. This does not seem to be a spring poem, but perhaps a reluctant spring is implicit – the reader spoke of a resonance with the feeling of deep-seated cold when the summer is not able to break the ice of winter.
  • Spring (8 Haiku) by Ben Gieske, a whimsical, funny and tender poem that is also of remembrance, of one or several springs.
  • A series of Spring Haiku by different poets, accompanied by photographs, curated by Ray Rasmussen. The Haiku poems sparked quite a discussion about Haiku and even inspired some sharing of poems written by the various participants.

We rounded off the evening by watching Michael Radford’s Il Postino, a funny and touching delight that was good to revisit as I’d last seen it many years ago. I was quite surprised to discover that in fact this story about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s friendship with, and inspiration of, a humble postman on a remote Italian island is fictional… I suppose I believe so much in the power of poetry that it seemed to me perfectly plausible.

(Update 19/04/10: ) The Haiku shared included this one that I loved and which I can share now with the permission of the poet:

Drowning the day’s sorrow
Back and forth
The swimming pool

© Nitzan Marinov, Spring 2007

Gerry says:

The power of Nitzan’s haiku is very resonant with me. At a very emotionally traumatic time in my life I survived by swimming every morning and, I believe that, ‘drowning the day’s sorrow’ permitted me to hold onto my sanity.

On relating my own experience to an aquaintance, she told me a further tale of swimming and sorrow about having to empty her swim goggles of tears after every few laps. Brings a vivid dimension to ‘drowning in tears’.

Thank you; I’m able to smile now at the recollection stirred up by those simple words.

Tia says:

Thanks for commenting, Gerry. It means so much to any poet to know that her words touch her readers. I’m also amazed by how much power there can be a few simple words when artfully put together!

Nitzan says:

Oh wow!
Well, I’ve been called many things :-) but never a ‘poet’. So that’s a first and an honour.
Secondly, thanks Gerry for sharing the thoughts and feelings that came up for you. It was very powerful for me to read and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem.
With gratitude

Tia says:

Well, Nitzan, Princeton tries to very careful about who is defined as a poet:

“a writer of poems (the term is usually reserved for writers of good poetry)”

and in this case I think you make it even into their restricted definition!

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