Originally published in Theory of Flight (1935)
How horrible late spring is, with the full death of the frozen tight bulbs
brownly rotting in earth; and each chord of light
rayed into slivers, a bunch of grapes plucked grape by grape apart,
a warm chord broken into the chilled single notes.
(Let us rely on cerebral titillation
for the red stimulus of sensuous supply;)
here is no heat, no fierce color: spring is no bacchante this year
eager to celebrate her carnal dedication.
The ghosts swim, lipless, eyeless, upward :
the crazy hands point in five directions down :
to the sea, the high ridge, the bush, the blade, the weak white root :
thumping at life in an agony of birth, abortive fruit.
Spring is very mad for greenness now
(: suppose it would be beautiful, if we let ourselves be : ),
but we must strip nascent earth bare of green mystery.
Trees do not grow high as skyscrapers in my town,
and flowers not so lovely as the pale bewildered youth,
hands pointing in five directions upward and out;
and spring in the fields and cities spreads to the north and south,
and is comforted in desire for the sun’s mouth.
Earth does not seem wooden to the comforted spring :
(spring could not seem so dull, I comforted :
but there must be abstraction, where fields need not sprout, waves pound,
there must be silence where no rushing grasses sound,
life in this lack of death, comfort on this wide ground).
(c) Muriel Rukeyser