Tag Archives: equinox

“To Autumn” by William Blake

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Today is the fall equinox, so I thought this would be an appropriate poem.

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

I really love the imagery in this poem. For me, it expresses the bounty of the harvest. But even more important, it hints at the promise of future growth. Within the harvest are the seeds for future crops. As Autumn flies over the bleak hills to make way for Winter, he leaves behind “his golden load”: an abundance of food, seeds for the Spring, and a feeling of joyous celebration.

May this fall season fill your life with happiness and abundance!!

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“To Spring” by William Blake

Botticelli: Primavera

Botticelli: Primavera

Today is Ostara, the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. To celebrate, I decided to read Blake’s “To Spring” this morning.

O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

 The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn’d
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

Reading this poem immediately conjured images of Botticelli’s Primavera. I could clearly see Venus, “with dewy locks,” standing in the center of a sacred grove. Beside her is Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring, adorned in “perfumèd garments.” They are joined by a host of other mythological figures, all celebrating the arrival of spring and the rebirth of the earth.

Blake achieves with his words what Botticelli creates with images, an allegory of spring that draws upon the symbolism of rebirth and regeneration as embodied in the goddess. After an exceedingly harsh winter, this is exactly what I needed. As I hear the birds singing outside and gaze through my window upon my sun-bathed garden, I also feel an internal rebirth. I can’t wait to get out and work in the garden this weekend.

I hope this poem has inspired you as it has me, and may you have a blessed spring!

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“Spring” by William Blake

Spring01

I know it’s not spring yet, but this is next up in the Songs of Innocence, hence I read it.

Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Bird’s delight,
Day and night,
Nightingale,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,–
Merrily,
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

As is often the case with Blake’s poetry, it appears deceptively simple but in actuality it is quite complex. While this seems like a playful song celebrating spring, with music and joy, there is actually a much deeper symbolism hidden in the poem. The key is in the refrain: “Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.”

The question we need to ask is—why is Blake welcoming in the new year in spring? I suspect that he is drawing from astrological cycles. According to the zodiac, Aries is the first sign of the astrological cycle, which would place the new year celebration around the time of the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is also symbolic of rebirth after the cold death of winter. So taken together, we have the rebirth of life, the beginning of a new cosmic cycle, and the rebirth of the god and/or goddess (if we tie in resurrection mythology usually associated with that time of the year). That to me seems like a genuine new year as opposed to the rolling over of the Julian calendar.

Blake never ceases to fascinate me. I can’t think of another poet who can present such profound ideas in such whimsical lines of rhyme. He was a genius and an artist.

Spring02

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