Red Poppy by Georgia O'Keefe

I think I love spring so much because of the energy that it brings. In the lushness of green, where even weeds "shoot long and lovely and lush," there "lives the dearest freshness deep down things" (to quote another Hopkins poem). In spring, there's a rush of fresh life, of "juice" and "joy." We are connected in some way to that first garden, and can catch, if we listen carefully, "A strain of the earth's sweet being." 

For Hopkins, priest as well as poet, the encouragement to have and get is driven by the reality that freshness does not last. The innocence of Mayday child will soon be lost, the clarity "clouded," the sweetness "soured." And so enters the Christ - "maid's child" - to reclaim the goodness of Eden, to win back the beloved creation.
When we feel disconnected from the Garden, plodding through stale energy, mourning the loss of vitality and innocence, there is a gift to be received in the uncloyed beauty of a spring day. And the hope that one day the strain will burst into a symphony.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring--
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy? 
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning 
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, 
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Leave a Reply.