May

There is a popular sentiment that May in England really ought to be a kindly month as far as weather is concerned.  However, it is probably too much to expect that it will always be benign especially if the Atlantic becomes even less predictable a route for our weather.  But a wet and wild May isn’t a new phenomenon, as Shakespeare knew:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate,
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
and summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;

The American poet James Russell Lowell wrote that May was a pious fraud; a ghastly parody of spring, and Housman returned again to a favoured metaphor: the extinguishing of the gale of life, in the 9th of his Last Poems:

 The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers,
Pass me the can, lad; there’s an end of May.

There’s one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
One season ruined of our little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
Oh ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

So, will there be a re-run of the 2008 gales, or even the 1955 ‘fen blow’ that blotted out the sun?  Or perhaps it will be as fine as last year – as like as not.  I am so hoping so.

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The world is too much with us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune,
It moves us not. – Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

A sentiment that, for many, is as apt now as it was in 1802 when Wordsworth wrote it, maybe even more so such is the disquiet and disenchantment around us, and our divorce from nature almost complete.  A tribute, then, on this April 7th, his birthday – which should forever be, Wordsworth Day.