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Poetry to Celebrate Spring Bristol City Poet Kat Lyons Celebrates the Arrival of Spring

Festival of Ideas

Written by Kat Lyons

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We tasked Bristol City Poet Kat Lyons with bringing together the perfect reading list as we enter a new season.

William Wordsworth’s famously joyful poem refers to spring as ‘a host of golden daffodils’, but I also resonate with his words on rainy workdays stuck in front of a laptop, when, like him, ‘I lie in vacant or in pensive mood’, remembering my latest weekend countryside wander. But as well as the physical signifiers of spring – the budding trees, new lambs and flowers – there’s a sense of renewal, of surviving the darkness and peering once more into the sunlight. The possibility of adventure in a fresh world.

Poems to Celebrate the Arrival of Spring

Caroline Bird’s Mid-air

Caroline Bird’s Mid-air captures the moment of a kiss – the way the rest of the world fades into obscurity, with a spotlight only the passion and the possibilities this touch awakens. Her use and repetition of ‘And’ at the beginning of phrases pulls us forward with her and gives a feeling of immediacy. The whole poem is an inhale.

Kisses are ‘music preceded by mid-air, when the baton lifts, the orchestra tightens’. The lovers in the poem are ‘a note almost sung’, waiting to find out what happens next. Those early spring days still on the cusp of winter also feel like that – yes, it’s still cold and the parks are mainly mud, but the skies are starting to be blue as well as grey. There are buds on the trees and a feeling in the air of everything waiting to launch itself into the future to see what it holds. 

Read Caroline Bird’s Mid-air here.

Philip Larkin’s The Trees

This feeling of anticipation continues in Philip Larkin’s The Trees, where the budding trees are ‘coming into leaf/ like something almost being said’. The poem captures the infectious restlessness of the season. The world seems to shout, ‘Get on with it already, you don’t have forever!’.

The vividness of new growth is made even more green when contrasted against the bare branches of previous months, and the knowledge that each bud holds the next winter within itself. Every spring, the world tells us change is inevitable and moving forward is the only direction possible. ‘Last year is dead, they seem to say/ begin afresh, afresh, afresh’.

Read Philip Larkin’s The Trees here.

ee cummings’ Spring is like a perhaps hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand captures this inexorable creep of time and the seasons. One day everything is bare, but the next, somehow, there are flowers everywhere. Spring can be a lonely time too: once the season gets going the world around us alters so visibly and so quickly that it’s easy to feel left behind if we feel static in our lives. It’s as if we’re staring into a window display of the world while an invisible hand of time reaches in and places ‘carefully there a strange/ thing and a known thing here)and/ changing everything carefully’ – but, as ee cummings clarifies at the poem’s end, ‘without breaking anything’.

Read ee cummings’ Spring is like a perhaps hand here

Mary Oliver’s Spring

Finally, Mary Oliver’s ‘Spring’ is a love poem to the non-human world and how- even when we ignore it and hide away in ‘our glass cities’ it’s always there waiting for us, like a black bear hibernating in a cave, ‘her four black fists/ flicking the gravel/ her tongue/ like a red fire’ ready to wake and come ‘down the mountain/ breathing and tasting’. There’s a relentless power in Spring- how it can force roots through concrete or spark sudden devastating floods as ice melts. This poem, with its central figure of the reawakened bear, captures that power, and the quiet strength needed to do as she does and ‘sharpen her claws against/ the silence/ of the trees’ andsurrender to loving the world as it is. 

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