carpe while you can

Apr 8, 2021 poetry appreciation

For some reason, the only line I can remember from my first-term-at-Cambridge, deeply-uncomprehending reading of Gawain and the Green Knight is the line ‘Þe snawe snitered ful snart’. The snow snitered a bit this week (though not full snart) out of a beautiful blue sky; very odd and April-ish. We’ve also had some days, though, where ‘that blue has been all in a rush with richness’, so I thought today we could enjoy Hopkins’ lovely hymn to spring (have it read to you here. Poem starts at 1.19):

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –         
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring         
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush         
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush         
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.         

What is all this juice and all this joy?         
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,         
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,         
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Like many poems about spring (Herrick’s ‘To Daffodils‘ is particularly in my mind; check out this gorgeous setting by Moeran) the Hopkins reminds us of the transience of, well, everything. While we mightn’t agree that everything must ‘cloy/… cloud… and sour with sinning’, we can’t deny that all things pass. So, off the woods to ‘have [and] get’ while we can.

2 thoughts on “carpe while you can”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!