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Spring: The Ungive of Snow Bones

I have blogged about spring before – it happens every year after all. I have walked plenty this week, and seen much that is new after the dank, dour months of a brown winter: tight-budded pinpricks studding the hawthorn, a lone bee and butterfly brushing against cream walls, both discombobulated by the sun. A battalion of birdsong firing over the rooftops and this unnamed tactile splendour: a catkin that’s been down the gym.

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And yet, as the snowdrops bloom with all their puny might, with the blowsy crocuses and uniform daffodils following hard on their delicate white heels, I  always think of the Fran Landesman lyric, that spring can really hang you up the most. The Landesman lyrical sentiment is taken from the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The words speak of change, which many of us are hardwired to resist although we generally seem to do worse, psychologically speaking, with external circumstantial changes, not directly within our control. Every year we are aware that spring, a change, is coming about this time – and we might feel, for the most part, that the seasonal change is welcome after months of short, dark days. So what of Eliot’s Waste Land?

For me, it is stark reality of bright light on the ‘dead land’ that unsettles. The sunscald in what once passed for a garden, the illumination of winter dust suddenly strewn everywhere… the fear that spring will, this time, undo us. These tensions provoke action. Spring cleaning and gardening for some, artistic productivity in others. Busyness will save us from the memory and desire, stirring, we hope.

Yes, April is the cruellest month. Be sure to enjoy March whichever way you can.

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The title of this post is inspired by a new book about language and nature titled ‘Landmarks‘ by Robert MacFarlane and published in hardback this week.

N.b. This post has given me terrible trouble what with dodgy punctuation and big ideas gone astray. Apologies if it does not quite cohere.

‘Spring can really hang you up the most’

pond reflection

Yesterday in the park. Lyrics by the now departed Fran Landesman. A jazz standard that I hear in my head with Ian Shaw singing, accompanying himself on the piano. Beautiful and poignant.

Once I was a sentimental thing;
Threw my heart away each spring.
Now a spring romance
Hasn’t got a chance.
Promised my first dance to winter.
All I’ve got to show’s a splinter
For my little fling.

Spring this year has got me feeling
Like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room
Staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

Morning’s kiss wakes trees and flowers,
And to them I’d like to drink a toast.
But I walk in the park
Just to kill the lonely hours.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

All afternoon the birds twitter-twitt.
I know the tune. This is love, this is it.
Heard it before
and don’t I know the score.
And I’ve decided that spring is a bore.

Love seems sure around the new year.
Now it’s April. Love is just a ghost.
Spring arrived on time,
Only what became of you, dear?
Spring can really hang you up the most.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

College boys are writing sonnets
In their tender passion they’re engrossed
While I’m on the shelf
With last years easter bonnets
Spring can really hang you up the most

Love came my way. I thought it would last.
We had our day, now it’s all in the past.
Spring came along, a season of song,
full of sweet promise
but something went wrong.

Doctors once prescribed a tonic.
Sulfur and molasses was the dose.
Didn’t help one bit.
My condition must be chronic.
Spring can really hang you up the most.

All alone, the party is over.
Old man winter was a gracious host.
But when you keep praying
For snow to hide the clover,
Spring can really hang you up the most.