Sunday, 1 April 2012

The first wash of spring

This is from a lovely piece by the Orkney poet George Mackay Brown - the last of the weekly columns he wrote for the Orcadian newspaper, published a few weeks before his death in April 1996:

This morning - as I write - is April 3, and the first wash of Spring has gone over the earth.

It is such a beautiful word - April - that even to utter it lightens the heart. It is a little poem in itself. It is full of delightful images. It has its own music - little trembling lamb-cries at the end of a field. The first daring lark lost in light.

You feel, in April, that you have come through another winter, a little bruised maybe, but unbowed.

Those chalices of light, the daffodils, having been sorely battered by the March storms, are shedding, one by one, their green covers and opening their vernal tapers.

Soon all of Orkney will be stitched by golden threads of daffodils, a lovely spread garment for Primavera ...

The word 'June' is beautiful, too, of course, but like May it has a curtness that lacks the lyricism of 'April'. In midsummer there is perhaps too much - what month-name devised by man could hope to contain the light and multitudinous beauties of the season? Best to be simple and brief, to hold the word to the nostrils like a plucked wild clover ... Such enchantment, under the light that never leaves the sky - not at midnight even.

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