Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Afresh, Afresh, Afresh

As I walked around the park with my wife this morning, we noticed that the trees were finally leafing out, some quite exuberantly.  This poem came to mind, by Phillip Larkin:
The Trees  
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain. 
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
I hadn't noticed until now the pun that links stanzas two and three:  "grain," as in the grain of a piece of wood, setting up "thresh," which is what one does to grain after it's been harvested, as well as a lovely bit of onomatopoeia for the way those leafy branches move in the wind.  The same way that a Nativity painting will often subtly foreshadow the crucifixion, Larkin's spring poem foreshadows the fall.

Not sure what to do with "castles" yet, but it will probably come to me.

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