Dear Readers here’s a reminder to those of you who, like me, are fed up with what seems like winter’s interminable grey; in just a few weeks the snowdrops will be in full bloom. I took the photo above in the cemetery on 21st of February, and it’s clear that these lovelies had been out for a while. So hold on, folks! In my garden I have one single patch of snowdrops that is looking pretty promising, so shortly I might be able to bring you some homegrown examples. In the meantime, though, here are two very different poems about snowdrops. These two Northern lads, Ted Hughes and William Wordsworth, could not be more different. Which will you prefer, I wonder? I used to love Ted Hughes rugged machismo – only he could look at a snowdrop and see metal and brutality – but as I grow older, I find myself warming to the lyricism and hope in the Romantics in a way that I never did when I was first studying them.
First, the Ted Hughes.
Now is the globe shrunk tight
Round the mouse’s dulled wintering heart.
Weasel and crow, as if moulded in brass,
Move through an outer darkness
Not in their right minds,
With the other deaths. She, too, pursues her ends,
Brutal as the stars of this month,
Her pale head heavy as metal.
And here’s Wordsworth.
To A Snowdrop
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
And finally, I couldn’t resist adding a third poem. Here’s something ebullient from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, another poet that I’m growing to love more as the years go by.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Many, many welcomes,
Ever as of old time,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
And so say all of us!