Thursday, March 12, 2015

`The Pilgrim Steps of Spring'

This winter, Houston has come to resemble Seattle – not in the latter’s smug unfriendliness, but in its gray sameness and absence of sunlight. I remember David Myers chiding me for agreeing to live in Seattle, that most self-righteous of cities. He was right, and I’ve mended my ways. In Houston, Daylight Saving Time hasn’t helped. I leave for work in the dark and come home most nights in the dark. What has come back to me is a Northerner’s sense of earning the right to spring’s return. Character-building is built into the cycle of the seasons. Only the stalwart shall know spring. In Houston, solstice and equinox are permeable membranes. The seasons customarily blur. Here is Sonnet VI by Robert Bridges from his sonnet sequence The Growth of Love (1876): 

“While yet we wait for spring, and from the dry
And blackening east that so embitters March,
Well-housed must watch grey fields and meadows parch,
And driven dust and withering snowflake fly;
Already in glimpses of the tarnish’d sky
The sun is warm and beckons to the larch,
And where the covert hazels interarch
Their tassell’d twigs, fair beds of primrose lie.
Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid
A million buds but stay their blossoming;
And trustful birds have built their nests amid
The shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing
Till one soft shower from the south shall bid,
And hither tempt the pilgrim steps of spring.” 

The final line recalls Chaucer – the turning of the seasons as a sort of pilgrimage. In a letter to the poet and novelist Henry Newbolt written on April 30, 1922, Bridges says: “Is there any chance of you paying us another visit? We should enjoy it much, and this is a good time of year. If the wind should get warmer there will be a wonderful spring.”

1 comment:

Chuck Kelly said...

I'm a native, so spring isn't nearly as delightful to me. It's just a quick warm up for summer's blow torch.

Fall is a much more pleasant season. It's a welcomed transition into winter, which on the Texas Gulf Coast is relatively mild, but still a change from the scorching sun.