Poets have always written about spring, and no surprise—even in our cynical world, spring inspires a sense of wonder, a sense of hope and possibilities. Here are extracts from some of my favorite spring poems. They are linked to their full versions (and in the case of the Middle English ones, the translations). Don't miss out on the beautiful song audio file for the first!
Lenten ys come with love to toune,
With blosmen & with briddes roune,
That al this blisse bryngeth;
Dayes eyes in this dales,
Notes suete of nyhtegales;
Uch foul song singeth....
—Anonymous Medieval Lyric (c1310)
Whan that Aprille with his showres sote
The droght of Marche had perced to the rote...
And smale fowles maken melodye....
—Chaucer, General Prologue,
Canterbury Tales (late 14th c.)
Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug, jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
—Thomas Nashe, Spring (c1590)
May never was the month of love,
For May is full of flowers;
But rather April, wet by kind,
For love is full of showers.
—Robert Southwell, Love's Servile Lot (late 16th c.)
How could it be so fair, and you away?
How could the Trees be beauteous, Flowers so gay?...
When e'er then you come hither, that shall be
The time, which this to others is, to Me.
—Abraham Cowley, Spring (1647)
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
—T. S. Eliot, Waste Land (1922)
NB: The MS image in this post ©British Library. In the U.S., under U.S. copyright law,
it is Public Domain and is used under a Creative Commons license.