The Week of Cherry Blossoms

Today is something of an anniversary for me. Seven years ago, on this day, I wrote my first adult poem. I remember this because it was the last day of winter, and unusually warm. The poem was about a new crush after a long relationship had ended. I’m sure it would be highly embarrassing to look at now, not least of all because the crush in question went resolutely nowhere, but somehow the metaphor of unexpected spring seemed to fit the moment well. I suppose that, all cliches aside, it did.

I went on to write several poems about spring, but have not done so for some time. I became a little more ambivalent towards spring over the last few years. It seemed to draw me reluctantly out of my winter hibernation, when I, like an unsettled hermit, would much rather be left alone.

This spring is different. Much in my life is changing, and though I do not know where any of it will lead, I am slowly learning what it is to trust the God who orders all the seasons alike and purposes love through them all. Today’s poem looks at this idea. I hope you enjoy it.

And to those living in the southern hemisphere, happy last day of winter.

The Week of the Cherry Blossoms

Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us…

(T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)

And it will surprise us, this week out of nowhere,
Grey mornings and overcast noons replaced
With this unexpectedness of pink

Blossoms bespeckling trees fresh from winter,
A shower of tenderness covering limbs,
Pianissimo moment in spring’s overture,

The redness of leaves soon to take August’s place,
This week just one window of delicate peace,
After winter’s refuge from sunbeams.

No fear; the sun cannot harm us by day, nor
New growth take us where we would rather avoid:
The seasons work, hands held, together,

Guided by logic and purpose and love,
Not arousing or waking what’s better asleep
But harvesting hope as it springs.

Poet #4: Christina Rossetti

1360777373Well, a new month begins: July, my favourite month of the year. And so it seems fitting, in the month of my birth, to move onto one of my absolute favourite poets, the passionate and devout Victorian poet, Christina Rossetti. I’m excited to be looking at her work this month, and I hope you’re excited to read her with me. Watch this space for poetry and reflections on Rossetti’s rich and complex life.

To whet your appetite, here is one of her lesser-known gems, found in her devotional journal, Time Flies.

Heartsease I found, where Love-lies-bleeding
            Empurpled all the ground:
Whatever flowers I missed unheeding,
            Heartsease I found.
           Yet still my garden mound
Stood sore in need of watering, weeding,
            And binding things unbound.
Ah, when shades fell to light succeeding,
            I scarcely dared look round:
“Love-lies-bleeding” was all my pleading,
            Heartsease I found.

(Christina Rossetti, from Time Flies: A Reading Diary)

In His field, amidst the flowers (After Ann Griffiths’ “His left hand, in heat of noonday”)

This is, sadly, my last poem working with the lovely eighteenth-century Welsh poet Ann Griffiths. This one is based on the beautifully simple “His left hand, in heat of noonday”, translated here by H.A. Hodges, who has translated a number of Griffiths’ poems and hymns into English. In my own poem I have worked with an image that a close friend had today while praying for me. It was a very powerful image and seemed to fit perfectly with Griffiths’ poem, so I am sharing it with you all today. God bless you all as you read it.
In His field, amidst the flowers
(After Ann Griffiths’ “His left hand, in heat of noonday”)
In His field, amidst the flowers,
            While He weaves these petal chains,
Here I sit, His grass around me,
            As He sings rejoicing strains:
God Himself, the prince of ages,
            Singing for His broken child.
            Listen, earth, and listen, angels:
Hear His song in love’s wide field.