Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bare Ruin'd Choirs

. . . yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

from Shakespeare's Sonnet 73

Shakespeare's comparing himself, as an aged man, to a winter-bare tree. It's a pleasant metaphor but a little unkind, in my opinion, to the trees. Personally, when I look at trees in winter, I'm aware of the latent strength, just waiting to burst forth in buds and leaves.

Even the old black willow that leans across the road in front of the barn, in spite of its requiring support to remain upright, is just marshaling its reserves to add another foot of crooked growth this year.

The three river birches below our house, finger-diameter whips when I planted them (fortuitously below our septic tank) over thirty years ago, are beginning to show a reddish tinge -- and if you put your hands to their trunks, you can sense the cool, damp sap within, ready to rise and start the riot of Spring.

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Unknown said...

Ahhhhh if I still lived in New Jersey, I would be hunkered down now, with my annual "It will always be winter and never spring" blues. Instead I took a walk in a Flat Rock Apple Orchard today with the beautiful sun on my back. I think MY sap is rising!
Sue McC

Carol Murdock said...

I saw a huge patch of white Daffodil's in bloom yesterday.
I am so ready for spring this year when usually I savor the winter as it gives me so much more reading and writing time. I guess it's all the excitement of the " Change".

Vicki Lane said...

This sunny blue-skied day has been welcome indeed. I'm real fond of our NC weather -- not too hot, not too cold but the Goldilockean ideal -- just right!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

I still shiver when I remember Allen Tate reading that sonnet to us in my MFA poetry workshop; he was a spine-tingling reader of poems. He then went on to talk about how Shakespeare achieved his effects. Esp. sound effects. Bare ruined choirs.... And my Spanish teacher had the gall to say that everything sounded better in Spanish!

Vicki Lane said...

I had an advanced Spanish class in college and our professor read poetry to us every day -- Lorca and Jimenez are the two I really remember. I gotta say it all sounded awfully good -- Spanish seems to me to have an advantage in that so very many things rhyme. And this professor, like Alan Tate, was quite a reader!