Monday, March 19, 2018

Carpe Diem—Memento Mori

It is a chilly morning.  The thermometer registers 31°—brrrr!  Spots of snow still linger in shadowed areas.  Yet the sun shines with a new intensity, a new brightness, or so it seems.  Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  The days become longer, brighter, hopefully warmer, and all kinds of things will begin to happen.  The crocus and hyacinth are blooming in my yard, heralding the coming of this new season of renewal, rebirth, resurrection, rejuvenation and regrowth.  The daffodils wanted to make an early announcement, too, as they usually do, but the cold air, wind, and snow have prevented them from doing so.  Still, with or without these early harbingers of spring, there is a “feel,” a “spirit,” in the air.  Spring is on its way—tomorrow!

Christina Rossetti’s poem “Spring” tells a deep and abiding truth:

“There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,…
There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die,…
There is no time like Spring that passes by,’
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.”

The seasons come and go and swiftly the years go by.  I’m reminded of E. Housman’s poem, “Loveliest of Trees, The Cherry Now.”  Are you familiar with it?  The speaker is but twenty years old, and he realizes if he should live to be seventy years of age (the average length of life according to the Bible) he only has fifty years remaining to experience spring and the cherry blossom.  The young fellow seems to say we must seize every new day, smell the roses (or the cherry blossoms) while we may—while it is day.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is young with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go 
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Now, my threescore years and ten are gone, an extra five are given.  How many are left I do not know.  Whatever number of springs remain are but little room.  “About the woodlands I wlll go, to see the cherry hung with snow.” 

For many years I've watched the dogwood in my yard bloom.
But even trees do not last forever.  Alas, my beautiful dogwood
tree was taken down last summer.  

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