If only life were eternal spring. The season invokes such colourful and lively thoughts that everything joyous immediately gets associated with it.
Gone are the dreary, cold and grey winter days; and the thistle of the heat is yet afar. Streams suddenly dance out in delight, as they break their frozen icy moulds. Birds flock towards the outstretched and inviting arms of green leafy trees, and their sweet chirrup wafts through windows of venerable cottages, instantly brightening hearts.
Branches bow languorously under the rich burden of fresh buds, teaching man blessed with aplenty to remain humble and to share. The faint blue sky and white cottony floats swimming unbridled across a vast canvas invite children to step out and play or swing or chase butterflies.
Such is the soft luxuriant flush of Spring that it inspires every heart to hum a melody. It is no surprise then that it is this very beautiful cycle of the year that has enthused the pens of great writers to capture its rapture and forever secure it between the covers of tomes, so that we may refer back to them in more prosaic times and yet find a reason to smile.
Among the most famous of such works is of Henry David Thoreau, who in ‘Walden’ writes:
“When the ground was partially bare of snow, and a few warm days had dried its surface somewhat, it was pleasant to compare the first tender signs of the infant year just peeping forth with the stately beauty of the withered vegetation which had withstood the winter-life...”
The bumblebees busy themselves sucking elixir from luscious blossoms. Birds gather twigs on flowering trees to prepare their Lilliputian homes for the year ahead.
The secrets of nature suddenly unravel as lush meadows, tucked in the folds of the green hills, suddenly break into a riot of red, yellow, mauve and orange.
Walt Whitman describes the scene in ‘These I Singing in Spring’:
“Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and then in the silence,
Alone I had thought, yet soon a troop gathers around me,
Some walk by my side and some behind, and some embrace my arms or neck,
They the spirits of dear friends dead or alive, thicker they come, a
great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing, there I wander with them,
Plucking something for tokens, tossing toward whoever is near me,
Here, lilac, with a branch of pine...”
The red-brown earth loosens to bring forth life; and thus here sprouts some grass and there a weed or a lone bloom. The dewdrops on green carpets instantly tempt passersby to trudge on tender ground unshod, for that cool tinkling feeling that enlivens the soul.
The sylvan forest draws out life that had been hibernating in burrows to forage for food, for their ration now runs low.
William Blake invites the season in ‘To Spring’ as follows:
“Come o`er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.”
A gentle tintinnabulation of the cowbells grazing in pastures sets an undulating rhythm to the unhurried pace of the season. As the iced leaves of pines melt their cover, there is a cadenced drip of falling drops.
One cannot therefore but add a touch of music when describing perhaps the most melodious time of the year. The Venetian Classical musician Antonio Vivaldi’s cherished ‘Four Seasons’ devotes one piece, ‘Spring’, to celebrate the song of the season. This particular piece also happened to be a great favourite of French King Louis XV. While music has been savoured by royalty often, what was peculiar in this instance was that the whimsical King would end up summoning musicians at the oddest of hours and at any point of his engagements and ordered them to start playing this masterpiece.
Vivaldi, on his part, is presumed to have always written a sonnet on each season before he composed music for it. (Recommended for readers: To hear the composition while reading the sonnet, as the great musician had intended it this way.)
On Spring he wrote: (Listen)
“Spring has come and joyfully the birds greet it with happy song, and the brooks, while the streams flow along with gentle murmur as the zephyrs blow. There come, shrouding the air with a black cloak, lighting and thunder chosen to herald [the storm]; then, when these are silent, the little birds return to their melodious incantations.
And now, in the pleasant, flowery meadow, to the soft murmur of leaves and plants, the goatherd sleeps with his faithful dog at his side.
To the festive sound of a pastoral bagpipe, nymphs and shepherds dance under their beloved canopy, greeting the glittering arrival of the spring.”
Dull manors, made cozy with firewood in winters, now bask in the full face of the warming sun, while flourishing honeysuckles cheer up their walls.
Spirited children and charming damsels delight at reflections in the mirrors of crystal clear lakes.
Wild grasses which sway in the sweet scented breeze appear like the wind swept tresses of a country maiden.
Spring is thus also the season of love. Often, in Indian literature and mythology, Spring is referred to as Rituraj Basant (Spring, the King of Seasons) and is believed to be the most efficient accomplice of Kamdeva, the God of Love. The passion that beats within young breasts in our land resonates across continents, and in far away lands separated by roaring seas.
The French, who are the connoisseurs of amour, see the season through the eyes of a romantic. Well-known 19th Century French author Guy de Maupassant writes ‘In the Spring’
"I seemed to myself to expand in the sun. I loved everything--the steamer, the river, the trees, the houses and my fellow-passengers. I felt inclined to kiss something, no matter what; it was love, laying its snare. Presently, at the Trocadero, a girl, with a small parcel in her hand, came on board and sat down opposite me. She was decidedly pretty, but it is surprising, monsieur, how much prettier women seem to us when the day is fine at the beginning of the spring. Then they have an intoxicating charm, something quite peculiar about them. It is just like drinking wine after cheese.”
Nature, too, plays a lover through the avid interaction of its elements. One can hear the susurrus of the flowing breeze, as it caresses leaves and cherry blossoms. Christina Georgina Rossetti best brings out the mumble of the season in ‘Spring Quiet’:
“Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing;
Full of sweet scents,
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
We spread no snare;”
And even when evening comes, Nature wears a royal blue cloak with glittering embellishments of pearls and diamonds. She carries a magical wand that casts a spell of cool tranquility. The image that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow paints in ‘An April Day’ is irresistible:
“When the bright sunset fills
The silver woods with light, the green slope throws
Its shadows in the hollows of the hills,
And wide the upland glows.
And when the eve is born,
In the blue lake the sky, o`er-reaching far,
Is hollowed out and the moon dips her horn,
And twinkles many a star.”
At a more sublime level, Thoreau explores human consciousness by the medium of Spring. He expresses not just vitality, but also a certain sanguinity and buoyancy, and of the expansion of human mind and largesse of the human heart. He writes in ‘Walden’:
A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring.
Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors. You may have known your neighbor yesterday for a thief, a drunkard, or a sensualist, and merely pitied or despised him, and despaired of the world; but the sun shines bright and warm this first spring morning, re-creating the world, and you meet him at some serene work, and see how it is exhausted and debauched veins expand with still joy and bless the new day, feel the spring influence with the innocence of infancy, and all his faults are forgotten.
It follows that Spring at the end brings with her the message of hope. When the drab routine begins to pull down our spirits and life becomes a sluggish monotony; when the weight of troubles begins crushing our faith, spring tells us about how the tick of time makes everything ephemeral.
Just like when the melancholic night of winter withers, Spring is really the morning that is full of promise.
Percy Shelley, in his poem "Ode to the West Wind", fills us with eternal optimism:
`If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
(The views expressed by the author are personal)