Thank you all for the wonderful lines of poetry in the previous post's comments! If people want to continue to leave favorite lines of poetry (please do!), I'll post them all together later.
Yesterday I jotted down scraps of poems as I walked around the lake. Half wrong, mostly, and now I see the lines from a poem I wanted to post this Easter morning are actually from two different poems:
Who would have thought my shrivl'd heart
Could have recover'd greeness?
What is all this juice and all this joy?
[Top lines: from The Flower by George Herbert (1593–1633)
Bottom line: from Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins.]
Fair enough--they both catch the surprise one feels at recovering from desolation--whether that's the desolation of winter or grief.
Living in Minnesota, I love how we all react like startled cats when spring jumps out at us one. more. time.
The deep surprise of recovery from grief, though, is on a different order of magnitude, or it was for me.
It's not that we don't expect spring to return,
it's just that winter's so very l o o o o o ng, we kind of forget we expect spring.
But the desolation of grief felt final to me, like death not sleep.
I figured I would be OK in the long run, you know, but never fully well again.
But it turned out my heart was like the Easter basket made of willow my friend Laura left sitting in her basement laundry sink.
In the dark, damp place, the willow branches started to sprout.
Laura is a gardener, and she took one of the branches and planted it next to the pond in her backyard. Now she has a young willow tree.
Anther of my favorite images of surprise at the return of life is Rembrandt's sketch of Mary Magdalene mistaking the risen Christ for a gardener (the first image).
Her smile when she recognizes him is my favorite.
But I actually prefer the Christ Rembrandt's student drew (second image), with his casual pose.
I'd like to put elements of the two drawings together: Mary's smile and Jesus' lean.
(I guess the idea that she thought he was a gardner came from a misreading of the original text, but it is a happy mistake:
of course the resurrected Christ is a gardener, like my friend Laura with her willow branches.)
I recognize Mary's sweet relief from dreams:
my mother and my friend Jim, both dead, have both appeared to me in dreams, and my feeling is like nothing else.
Herbert's lines about "recover'd greenness" grabbed me many years ago.
Reading his poem again now, I see there's more to it than I caught back then:
it's also about the surprising power of renewal after the passing of youth.
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
I was surprised, too, to read that Samuel Taylor Coleridge called this "a delicious poem" because I'd thought describing something as "delicious" was a 21st century thing, but seems it's been around before. Of course.
Finally, I've written before about how deeply grateful I am for rock 'n' roll and Captain Kirk:
both expressions of that same life force.
Their surprising power represents to me another line of poetry, Dylan Thomas's
"the force that through the green fuse drives the flower".
And now, I'm off to brunch.
Top image: left: "Christ as a Gardener Appearing to Mary Magdalene," Rembrandt, about 1640.
Bottom image: Same title: once credited to Rembrandt, this drawing is now credited to his student Ferdinand Bol.
(Both from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.)
More on Rembrandt and His Students, courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum