Our spring library
A selection of poems that we think are perfect to read in spring
Budding Time Too Brief
O little buds, break not so fast!
The Spring’s but new.
The skies will yet be brighter blue,
And sunny too.
I would you might thus sweetly last
Till this glad season’s overpast,
Nor hasten through.
It is so exquisite to feel
The light warm sun;
To merely know the Winter done,
And life begun;
And to my heart no blooms appeal
For tenderness so deep and real,
As any one
Of these first April buds, that hold
The hint of Spring’s
Rare perfectness that May-time brings.
So take not wings!
Oh, linger, linger, nor unfold
Too swiftly through the mellow mould,
Sweet growing things!
And errant birds, and honey-bees,
Seek not to wile;
And, sun, let not your warmest smile
Quite yet beguile
The young peach-boughs and apple-trees
To trust their beauty to the breeze;
Wait yet awhile!
Evaleen Stein (1863–1923)
Build not on to-morrow,
But seize on to-day!
From no future borrow,
The present to pay.
Wait not any longer
Thy work to begin;
The worker grows stronger,—
Be steadfast and win!
Forbode not new sorrow—
Bear that of to-day,
And trust that the morrow
Shall chase it away.
The task of the present
Be sure to fulfil;
If sad, or if pleasant,
Be true to it still.
God sendeth us sorrow
And cloudeth our day;
His sun on the morrow
Shines bright on our way.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).
Flowers and Light
Flowers have uncountable ways of pretending to be
Not solid, but moonlight or sunlight or starlight with scent.
Primroses strive for the colour of sunshine on lawns
Freesias are flames wherein light more than heat is desired,
As candles on altars burn amethyst, golden and white.
Wall-flowers are sun streaked with shade. Periwinkles blue noon
At the height.
Lesbia Harford (1891-1927)
Happy the Man
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
John Dryden (1631-1700)
Here by the Brimming April Streams
Here by the brimming April streams,
Here is the valley of my dreams.
Every garden place is seen
Starting up in flames of green;
Breaking forth in yellow gold
Through the blanket of the mould.
Slow unfolded, one by one,
Lantern leaves hang in the sun,
Like the butterflies of June
Weak and wet from the cocoon.
Philip Henry Savage (1868–99)
It's All I have to Bring Today
It’s all I have to bring today–
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Three seagulls crossed on the space of sky
That is all my window frames for me,
And flashed like silver, fluttering by,
From the far, wide, foam-blown sea;
I only glimpsed them – white as they flew,
And the sky was greyer than lead;
But I cared little, for I saw the blue
Of the distant sea instead.
George O’Neil (1896-1940)
Now I know that Spring will come again,
Perhaps to-morrow: however late I've patience
After this night following on such a day.
While still my temples ached from the cold burning
Of hail and wind, and still the primroses
Torn by the hail were covered up in it,
The sun filled earth and heaven with a great light
And a tenderness, almost warmth, where the hail dripped,
As if the mighty sun wept tears of joy.
But 'twas too late for warmth. The sunset piled
Mountains on mountains of snow and ice in the west:
Somewhere among their folds the wind was lost,
And yet 'twas cold, and though I knew that Spring
Would come again, I knew it had not come,
That it was lost too in those mountains chill.
What did the thrushes know? Rain, snow, sleet, hail,
Had kept them quiet as the primroses.
They had but an hour to sing. On boughs they sang,
On gates, on ground; they sang while they changed perches
And while they fought, if they remembered to fight:
So earnest were they to pack into that hour
Their unwilling hoard of song before the moon
Grew brighter than the clouds. Then 'twas no time
For singing merely. So they could keep off silence
And night, they cared not what they sang or screamed;
Whether 'twas hoarse or sweet or fierce or soft;
And to me all was sweet: they could do no wrong.
Something they knew--I also, while they sang
And after. Not till night had half its stars
And never a cloud, was I aware of silence
Stained with all that hour's songs, a silence
Saying that Spring returns, perhaps to-morrow.
Edward Thomas (1878-1917).
March the 3rd
Here again (she said) is March the third
And twelve hours singing for the bird
'Twixt dawn and dusk, from half past six
To half past six, never unheard.
'Tis Sunday, and the church-bells end
With the birds' songs. I think they blend
Better than in the same fair days
That shall pronounce the Winter's end.
Do men mark, and none dares say,
How it may shift and long delay,
Somewhere before the first of Spring,
But never fails, this singing day?
When it falls on Sunday, bells
Are a wild natural voice that dwells
On hillsides; but the birds' songs have
The holiness gone from the bells.
This day unpromised is more dear
Than all the named days of the year
When seasonable sweets come in,
Since now we know how lucky we are.
Edward Thomas (1878-1917).
Enters stage right
In swift and measured flight;
Perching close by;
Haunched back, taught as a trap;
Haughty to view the scene.
Or in the wings
From high in a tall tree,
A gleaming glance of russet red
On springs greening branch,
Trilling to try its territory
Swelling with sweet sweeping song
Jet black eyes, darting;
Always sharply watching;
A passive part, biding for a buried cue.
Let others dig the muddy plot:
Stay set to steal a line of luscious worth -
A soft and tasty morsel from the earth.
Michael Lee (our Founder 1932-2012)
Once more the lark with song and speed
Cleaves through the dawn, his hurried bars;
Fall, like the flute of Ganymede
Twirling and whistling from the stars.
The primrose and the daffodil
Surprise the valleys, and wild thyme
Is sweet on every little hill,
When lambs come down at folding time.
In every wild place now is heard
The magpie’s noisy house, and through
The mingled tunes of many a bird
The ruffled wood-dove’s gentle coo.
Sweet by the river’s noisy brink
The water-lily bursts her crown,
The kingfisher comes down to drink
Like rainbow jewels falling down.
And when the blue and grey entwine
The daisy shuts her golden eye,
And peace wraps all those hills of mine
Safe in my dearest memory.
Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)
Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.
This corner of the farmyard I like most: 5
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin, ‒
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe kept memory
Of a lovely thing.
Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
The First Ploughing
Calls the crow from the pine-tree top
When the April air is still.
He calls to the farmer hitching his team
In the farmyard under the hill.
“ Come up,” he cries, “come out and come up,
For the high field’s ripe to till.
Don’t wait for word from the dandelion
Or leave from the daffodil.”
Cheeps the flycatcher ‒ “Here old earth
Warms up in the April sun;
And the first ephemera, wings yet wet,
From the mould creep one by one.
Under the fence where the flies frequent
Is the earliest gossamer spun.
Come up from the damp of the valley lands,
For here the Winter’s done,”
Whistles the high-hole out of the grove
his summoning loud and clear:
“Chilly it may be down your way
But the high south field has cheer.
On the sunward side of the chestnut stump
The woodgrubs wake and appear.
Come out to your ploughing, come up to your ploughing,
The time for ploughing is here.”
Then dips the coulter and drives the share,
And the furrows faintly steam.
The crow drifts furtively down from the pine
To follow the clanking team.
The flycatcher tumbles, the high-hole darts
In the young noon’s yellow gleam;
And wholesome sweet the smell of the sod
Upturned from its Winter’s dream.
Sir Charles G D Roberts (1860-1943)
*high-hole – the Northern Flicker, colaptes auratus, a bird in the woodpecker family found in the USA.
Little brown brother, up in the apple tree,
High on its blossom-rimmed branches aswing,
Here where I listen earth-bound, it seems to me
You are the voice of the Spring.
Herald of Hope to the sad and faint-hearted,
Piper the gold of the world cannot pay,
Up from the limbo of things long departed
Memories you bring me to-day.
You are the echo of songs that are over,
You are the promise of songs that will come,
You know the music, oh light-winged rover,
Sealed in the souls of the dumb.
All of the past that we wearily sigh for,
All of the future for which our hearts long,
All Love would live for, and all Love would die for
Wordless, you weave in a song.
Little brown brother, up in the apple tree,
My spirit answers each note that you sing,
And while I listen ‒ earth-bound ‒ it seems to me
You are the voice of the Spring.
Virna Sheard (1862-1943)
To My Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)
The Pasture Field
When Spring has burned
The ragged robe of Winter, stitch by stitch,
And deftly turned
To moving melody the wayside ditch,
The pale-green pasture field behind the bars
Is goldened o’er with dandelion stars.
When Summer keeps
Quick pace with sinewy, white-shirted arms,
And daily steeps
In sunny splendour all her spreading farms,
The pasture field is flooded foamy white
With daisy faces looking at the light.
When Autumn lays
Her golden wealth upon the forest floor,
And all the days
Look backward at the days that went before,
A pensive company, the asters, stand,
Their blue eyes brightening the pasture land.
When Winter lifts
A sounding trumpet to his strenuous lips,
And shapes the drifts
To curves of transient loveliness, he slips
Upon the pasture’s ineffectual brown
A swan-soft vestment delicate as down.
Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857–1940)
To the Rev. Mr Newton
An invitation into the Country
The swallows in their torpid state
Compose their useless wing,
And bees in hives as idly wait
The call of early Spring.
The keenest frost that binds the stream,
The wildest wind that blows,
Are neither felt nor fear'd by them,
Secure of their repose.
But man, all feeling and awake,
The gloomy scene surveys;
With present ills his heart must ache,
And pant for brighter days.
Old Winter, halting o'er the mead,
Bids me and Mary mourn;
But lovely Spring peeps o'er his head,
And whispers your return.
Then April, with her sister May,
Shall chase him from the bowers,
And weave fresh garlands every day,
To crown the smiling hours.
And if a tear that speaks regret
Of happier times, appear,
A glimpse of joy, that we have met,
Shall shine, and dry the tear.
William Cooper (1731-1800)