Yesterday was the sort of April day described by Cowper. In the evening, I drove to a neighborhood sushi restaurant to pick up dinner. (Although restaurants are closed for dining, take out is still permitted, and it makes sense to support family-owned businesses.) Just then the sun was out, but it would soon set beyond Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, both at my back. The street I took runs straight down a long steep hill, levels out for a few blocks, then runs straight up another steep hill to the east. From the top of the hill, I could see the cherry trees -- in peak white bloom -- lining both sides of the street that climbs the opposite slope. The slope, and the houses on it, were covered in sunlight. A rainbow suddenly appeared above the hill on the other side of the valley. Descending, I passed blooming cherry trees, and, here and there, tall magnolia trees full of large pink-white blossoms.
Another April. More of the same. A paradise.
A Short Ode
All things then stood before us
as they were,
Not in comparison,
But each most rare;
The 'tree, of many, one,'
The lock of hair,
The weir in the morning sun,
The hill in the darkening air,
Each in its soleness, then and there,
Created one; that one, creation's care.
Edmund Blunden, A Hong Kong House: Poems 1951-1961 (Collins 1962).
The quotation in line 5 comes from William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood": "But there's a tree, of many, one,/A single field which I have look'd upon,/Both of them speak of something that is gone." I presume this reference accounts for Blunden's title (contrasting his ode of ten lines with Wordsworth's of over 200 lines).
Samuel Llewellyn (1858-1941), "Sailing at Blakeney" (c. 1938)
As is my usual practice, I have been doing my best to avoid "news." I hear about things such as "lockdowns" by word-of-mouth. But snippets inevitably seep through the interstices, despite my vigilance. For instance, I have recently been seeing and hearing the word "unprecedented" quite often. "Unprecedented." Is that so?
As is also my usual practice, I have been reading a poem soon after waking up each morning. Yesterday morning I read this, a haiku of which I have long been fond:
A night of stars;
The cherry blossoms are falling
On the water of the rice seedlings.
Buson (1716-1783) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 2: Spring (Hokuseido Press 1950), page 170.
I fell asleep last night thinking about stars in a dark sky and cherry blossom petals floating in dark water among rice seedlings. Today I went out for a walk. In puddles left by yesterday's rain, I saw blue sky, white clouds, and infinitely intricate tree branches, floating at my feet. Another April. Unprecedented.
Christopher Sanders (1905-1991)
"Sunlight Through a Willow Tree at Kew" (c. 1958)