Saturday, January 5, 2013

"There Is A Budding Morrow In Midnight"

We are in the midst of winter.  Still, there are signs of what is to come. Yesterday I saw a magnolia tree full of grey felt buds.  Surprisingly, I also came across a cherry tree with a scattering of small pink blossoms.  Testing the air?  Impatient?  Confused?  Too soon, I fear.  But what do I know?

                      William Ratcliffe (1870-1955), "The Temple Church"

"There Is A Budding Morrow In Midnight"

Wintry boughs against a wintry sky;
        Yet the sky is partly blue
                And the clouds are partly bright: --
Who can tell but sap is mounting high
                Out of sight,
Ready to burst through?

Winter is the mother-nurse of Spring,
        Lovely for her daughter's sake,
                Not unlovely for her own:
For a future buds in everything;
                Grown, or blown,
Or about to break.

Christina Rossetti, Poems (1888).

The source of Rossetti's title is a line from Keats's sonnet "To Homer":
. . . . .
Aye, on the shores of darkness there is light,
     And precipices show untrodden green;
There is a budding morrow in midnight,
     There is a triple sight in blindness keen;
Such seeing hadst thou, as it once befell
To Dian, Queen of Earth, and Heaven, and Hell.

                            William Ratcliffe, "Winter Scene with Houses"

6 comments:

Alex said...

Stephen: This morning I watched and listened to a pair of crows making a racket in an oak tree near my house. I wondered how long it would be before they began to rebuild the nest they abandoned late last summer. (I'm not sure whether in fact they do 'recycle' their former habitations or build new ones.) And though the weather happens to be far from wintry just now, Edward Thomas' Thaw came to mind:

Over the land half freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed,
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as a flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.


Can a 'budding morrow in midnight' be sensed not only by rooks but also by speculating crows? I'm almost ready to believe that it can.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

If there was a ever a hopeful poem about a new year this one by C.R. hits the mark. Then Keats arrives with his 'untrodden green' and suddenly the future seems even more profound with possibility !

Merisi said...

"For a future buds in everything" - so true and so comforting!

Around here, birdsong has taken on a different pitch. First sign of a still distant spring.

Happy New Year,
Merisi

Stephen Pentz said...

Alex: thank you for the reminder of "Thaw" -- it fits in well. Coincidentally, I came across a four-line poem with the same name by Michael Longley this weekend.

I'm no expert on birds, but crows are pretty clever, aren't they? I wouldn't be surprised if they refurbish their old homes each year. It's a nice thought.

Thanks for stopping by again.

Stephen Pentz said...

Julie: yes, she took a lovely line by Keats and made something lovely with it as well, didn't she? I hadn't looked at the Keats poem for a while and I had forgotten "untrodden green." I agree: very nice.

Thanks for the thoughts. Happy New Year.

Stephen Pentz said...

Merisi: it is nice to hear from you again. I like the thought of the birds singing in a new pitch -- it hadn't occurred to me before.

Happy New Year to you as well. I look forward to hearing from you in the coming year.