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HE Spring is now complete. The winds have done their
work. The shaken air, well-tempered and equalised,
has subsided; the genial rains, however thickly they may come, do not saturate the ground beyond the power of the sun to dry it up again, There are clear crystal mornings ; noons of blue sky and white cloud ; nights, in which the growing moon seems to lie looking at the stars, like a young shepherdess at her flock. A few days ago she lay gazing in this manner at the solitary evening star, like Diana, on the slope of a valley, looking up at Endymion. His young eye seemed to sparkle out upon the world ; while she, bending inwards, her hands behind her head, watched him with an enamoured dumb
But this is the quiet of Spring. Its voices and swift movements have come back also. The swallow shoots by us, like an embodied ardour of the season. The glowing bee has his will of the honeyed flowers, grappling with them as they tremble. We have not yet heard the nightingale or the cuckoo; but we can hear them with our imagination, and enjoy them through the content of those who have.
Then the young green. This is the most apt and perfect mark of the season,-the true issuing forth of the Spring. The trees and bushes are putting forth their crisp fans; the lilac is loaded with bud ; the meadows are thick with the bright young
* Written about the middle of April.-ED.
grass, running into sweeps of white and gold with the daisies and buttercups. The orchards announce their riches in a shower of silver blossoms. The earth in fertile woods is spread with yellow and blue carpets of primroses, violets, and hyacinths, over which the birch-trees, like stooping nymphs, hang with their thickening hair. Lilies of the valley, stocks, columbines, lady-smocks, and the intensely red piony, which seems to anticipate the full glow of summer-time, all come out to wait upon the season, like fairies from their subterraneous palaces.
Who is to wonder that the idea of love mingles itself with that of this cheerful and kind time of the year, setting aside even common associations ? It is not only its youth, and beauty, and budding life, and “the passion of the groves," that exclaim with the poet
“Let those love now, who never loved before ;
All our kindly impulses are apt to have more sentiment in them than the world suspect; and it is by fetching out this sentiment, and making it the ruling association, that we exalt the impulse into generosity and refinement, instead of degrading it, as is too much the case, into what is selfish and coarse, and pollutes all our systems. One of the greatest inspirers of love is gratitude, —not merely on its common grounds, but gratitude for pleasures, whether consciously or unconsciously conferred. Thus, we are thankful for the delight given us by a kind and sincere face ; and if we fall in love with it, one great reason is, that we long to return what we have received. The same feeling has a considerable influence in the love that has been felt for men of talents whose persons or address have not been much calculated to inspire it. In spring-time, joy awakens the heart; with joy awakes gratitude and nature; and in our gratitude we return, on its own principle of participation, the love that has been shown us.
* Pervigilium Veneris.-Parnell's Translation.
This association of ideas renders solitude in spring, and solitude in winter, two very different things. In the latter, we are better content to bear the feelings of the season by ourselves ; in the former, they are so sweet, as well as so overflowing, that we long to share them. Shakspeare, in one of his sonnets, describes himself as so identifying the beauties of the spring with the thought of his absent mistress, that he says he forgot them in their own character, and played with them only as wich her shadow. See how exquisitely he turns a com
mmonplace into this fancy; and what a noble brief portrait of April he gives us at the beginning! There is indeed a wonderful mixture of softness and strength in almost every one of the lines.
“ From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dress'd in all his trim,
Yet seem'd it winter still ; and, you away,
Shakspeare was fond of alluding to April. He did not allow May to have all his regard, because she was richer. Perdita, crowned with flowers, in the “Winter's Tale," is beautifully compared to
“Flora Peering in April's front."
There is a line in one of his sonnets, which, agreeably to the image he had in his mind, seems to strike up in one's face, hot and odorous, like perfume in a censer.
* But sweet, but.-Quære, But sweet-cut?
His allusions to spring are numerous in proportion. We all know the song containing that fine line, fresh from the most brilliant of palettes
“When daisies pied, and violets blue,
And lady-smocks all silver white,
Do paint the meadows with delight.” We owe a long debt of gratitude to the daisy ; and we take this opportunity of discharging a millionth part of it. undertook to pay it all, we should have had to write such a book as is never very likely to be written,-a journal of numberless happy hours in childhood, kept with the feelings of an infant and the pen of a man. For it would take, we suspect, a depth of delight and a subtlety of words, to express even the vague joy of infancy, such as our learned departures from natural wisdom would find it more difficult to put together than criticism and comfort, or an old palate and a young relish. But knowledge is the widening and the brightening road that must conduct us back to the joys from which it led us; and which it is destined perhaps to secure and extend. We must not quarrel with its asperities, when we can help.
We do not know the Greek name of the daisy, nor do the dictionaries inform us; and we are not at present in the way of consulting books that might. We always like to see what the Greeks say to these things, because they had a sentiment in their enjoyments. The Latins called it Bellis or Bellus, as much as to say, Nice One. With the French and Italians it has the same name as a Pearl, - Marguerite, Margarita, or generally, by way of endearment, Margheretina.* The same word was the name of a woman, and occasioned infinite inter
* This word is originally Greek, Margarites; and as the Franks probably brought it from Constantinople, perhaps they brought its association with the daisy
mixtures of compliment about pearls, daisies, and fair mistresses. Chaucer, in his beautiful poem of “ The Flower and the Leaf,” which is evidently imitated from some French poetess, says:
“ And at the laste there began anon
“The Margaret is so sweet.” Our Margaret, however, in this allegorical poem, is undervalued in comparison with the laurel; yet Chaucer perhaps was partly induced to translate it on account of its making the figure that it does ; for he has informed us more than once, in a very particular manner, that it was his favourite flower. There is a very interesting passage to this effect in his “ Legend of Good Women ;” where he says, that nothing but the daisied fields in spring could take him from his books.
“And as for me, though that I can but litet
On bookés for to read I me delight,
comen, and I hear the foulis sing,