The sights, sounds and smells of Spring lift my spirits at the best of times but in these lockdown days, as I’ve grown used to the blissfully deafening silence and reduced levels of pollution, the growth of the new season seems all the more thrilling.

A sharp acidic scent of new-mown grass and blooming daffodils is flowing through my windows from the garden next door and a light breeze has caused a shower of white blossom to float over the fence. As for the chorus of birdsong that constantly ebbs and flows according to the time of day, it is a soundtrack that makes my beloved radio virtually redundant during my working hours.

This, surely, is the kind of closeness to Nature that stirred the poet William Wordsworth (whose birthday it is today) to write of ‘Pansies, lilies, kingcups, daisies,’ ‘little Butterfly!’ and ‘the birds are singing in the distant woods;’.

His ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’ seem closest to our current situation, however:

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)/


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