April 5, 1974
The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In the dull pasture where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch, and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law?
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream.
There was a subtle flood of steam
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter’s giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.
When I first read this poem (Collected Poems 1943-2004, Harcourt Publishers) I was immediately transported to a day last spring when I walked across our fields and had a similar experience. I procrastinated but finally wrote to Mr. Wilbur who lives in a nearby hilltown, and asked his permission to use the poem. He graciously gave that permission – and mentioned that he plans to get a few leeks planted in the garden this spring — when the snow disappears and the rain is no longer puddling. I hope that at 89 I will also still be planting and writing.
The collection includes show lyrics like Oh, Happy We and Glitter and Be Gay from Candide, a collaboration with Lillian Hellman, and Leonard Berstein. There is also a section of wonderful Poems for Children and Others named Opposites. The collection is a complete joy. We are fortunate to live in an area with so many creative artists.
Carolyn gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago gives us the opportunity to let the muses inspire us in a multitude of ways. Visit her blog and see how others are inspired.
This Post Has 8 Comments
Wonderful, AND I thought I was the only one up at this time. A sleepless night and thank heavens for garden blogs.
All spring joys to you and the adorable Richard Wilbur!
Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island
I have ben away for the past several days and was delighted with your blog’s new background wallpaper. What occurred to me was that gardeners must have a considerable inventory of charming photos that would lend themselves to reproduction in multiplied format as real wallpaper. I’d love to see this on a room-sized application. Although I’ve never been a fan of wallpaper, I’ve been looking lately at 18th century walls and porcelain (I’ve been in France) and suddenly find the application of a floral motif to a plate or a wall something delightful. The green field with the dominant yellow and the accents of violet is sincerely lovely. Vous avez trouvé une image simple et l’avez transformé dans quelque chose d’encore plus bel et enchanteur! Merci, Pat.
What a beautiful poem! I’ve read several of Wilbur’s poems before, but I’ve never run across this one. It certainly describes so well that time of year when we see the seasons beginning to change. And how exciting to have been able to correspond with such a famous poet! I hope, too, that at 89 I’ll still be gardening. Happy Muse Day, Pat!
Flaneur – tu est tres gentille.
Rose – IT was exciting to get a charming letter from a famous poet. My husband and I were enjoying the song Oh Happy We this morning – a couple with very different views of the future – but imagining themselves in total agreement.
What a wonderful poem. I have been in those soggy fields many times. Your picture goes with the poem so well.
Lovely poem, and how gracious of Mr. Wilbur to give permission to use it. Your photo is beautiful. (Makes me want to grab an afgan, even though it’s 70 degrees here.)
I love “Oh Happy We.” Not surprisingly, “Make Our Garden Grow” is my favorite from Candide. Such beautiful music. Thank you Mr. Bernstein!
How lovely, Pat. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
The perfect spring picture both in prose and print.