22 April 2013

Poem of the Week 2013/17

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.

Richard Wilbur

I thought I'd continue the spring theme with this April-specific poem by Richard Wilbur. Though different in subject from his last appearance here, it's similar in tone, with wit and lightness of touch, expressed elegantly in formal though easy-flowing meter and rhyme (notice how the rhyming couplets generally overlap rather than coincide with individual sentences, giving forward movement and a sense of sophistication to a very simple aabbcc rhyme scheme), He is skeptical without cynicism, open to the world's occasional wonders. I love the specificity of the title: he may or may not have had this actual experience on that particular date, but you can't help feeling it's all grounded in a particular time and place.

This is from New and Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Bookend poems today. One about the end of Spring, the other about the start. I am wondering how one would read this out loud. It's kind of hard to not hit on those rhymes, though doing that makes the sentences kind of go away.