Thursday, April 30, 2020

Here’s to Blithesome May (and e. e. cummings)



It’s the last day of National Poetry Month and I’ve been celebrating with poetry old (nineteenth-century poets) and new (Kwame Dawes, Eileen Myles, and M. L. Smoker to name a few). I’m also still thinking about the sometimes-tangled prosody of e. e. cummings whose Collected Poems dominated most of my 2019 in Verse. Today, I thought I’d say goodbye to April (you cruellest of months) and bid Hello to what the poet calls “blithesome May” in an excerpt from one of his earlier, more-accessible poems.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? Here in Montana, there were snowflakes swirling outside my fourth-floor apartment window a mere two weeks ago. So I’m more than ready for sun-showers and the burst of buds on the flowering trees in my neighborhood. For those of you, like me, who have been restlessly pacing the confines of quarantine, here’s a glimmer of meteorological hope from Mr. cummings, first published in The Cambridge Review in 1910 (in the month of May, naturally).


The Coming of May

We have wintered the death of the old, cold year,
We have left our tracks in the melting snow,
We have braved harsh March’s biting jeer,
And April’s gusty overflow.
And now, when Nature begins to grow,
And the buds are out, and the birds are gay
And all is well–above and below,–
Here’s to the coming of blithesome May.

Winter was good when he met us here,
With his sharp, clear days, and his flashing snow,
Bur we carried Winter out on his bier,
And buried him, many a month ago.
March was not hard with all his blow,
With April, Spring seemed on her way,
But we’ve reached the best at last, and so
Here’s to the coming of blithesome May.

Winter has ended his cold career,–
No more death, and no more woe,–
We’ve come at last to a different sphere,
With no more freezing, and–mistletoe.
Spring in coming was very slow,–
Altogether too much delay,–
But we’ve cheered her on from foe to foe:
Here’s to the coming of blithesome May.


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