March

The light in March is fresh. The sun is catching the trees and fields, it glances on the hill-tops and it fills out the shadows with a new vigour alerting us to the arrival of spring. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), that extraordinary poet from Amherst, Massachusetts, who spent the latter part of her life secluded in her room at the family home and wrote over 1800 poems, few of which were published in her lifetime, was alive to the moods of light in a painterly way. Her poem, ‘A light exists in Spring’ has illuminated the way I have looked at the countryside in this first week of March:

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the year
At any other period-
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of Sound
It passes and we stay-

A quality of loss
Affecting our content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Emily Dickinson

Dickinson’s poetry is often like a riddle, a riddle that is always trying to uncover the wonder that she feels in the presence of nature. The uncomfortable syntax and quirky punctuation are not there to confuse and bewilder us, they are testament to her own perplexity in the face of the inexplicable that, ‘Science cannot overtake.’

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