firsts

Category : Books
Date : March 20, 2014
Comments :

First day of spring.  First spring snow showers.  First flock of red-winged black birds.  First shoots of skunk cabbage.

First American poet Anne Bradstreet’s thoughts on spring:

Sweet Spring like man in his Minority,
At present claim’d, and had priority.
With smiling face and garments somewhat green,
She trim’d her locks, which late had frosted been,
Nor hot nor cold, she spake, but with a breath,
Fit to revive, the nummed earth from death.
Three months (quoth she) are ‘lotted to my share
March, April, May, of all the rest most fair.
Tenth of the first, Sol into Aries enters,
And bids defiance to all tedious winters,
Crosseth the Line, and equals night and day,
 (Stil adds to th’last til after pleasant May)
And now makes glad the darkened northern wights
Who for some months have seen but starry lights.
Now goes the Plow-man to his merry toyle,
He might unloose his winter locked soyl:
The Seeds-man too, doth lavish out his grain,
In hope the more he casts, the more to gain:
The Gardener now superfluous branches lops
And poles erects for his young clambering hops.
Now digs then sowes his herbs, his flowers and roots
And carefully manures his trees of fruits.
The Pleides their influence now give,
And all that seem’d as dead afresh doth live.
The croaking frogs, whom nipping winter kil’d
Like birds now chirp, and hop about the field.
The Nightingale, the black-bird and the Thrush
The wanton frisking Kid, and soft-fleec’d Lambs
Do jump and play before their feeding Dams,
The tender tops of budding grass they crop,
They joy in what they have, but more in hope:
Yet many a fleece of snow and stormy shower
Doth darken Sol’s bright eye, makes us remember
The pinching North-west wind of cold December.

Bradstreet (1612-1672), along with her husband Simon and her parents Thomas and Dorothy Dudley, arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1650 after surviving the three-month voyage from England aboard the Arabella.

Bradstreet wrote over 6000 lines of poetry during her lifetime. Her poems are political, historical, lyrical, and seasonal.

Poems of Anne Bradstreet, edited with an introduction by Robert Hutchinson, (Dover Publications, 1969), pgs 167-8, from her poem entitled,  The four Seasons of the Year.

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