Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dreaming of Spring

Like just about everyone here in Minnesota, I can't wait for some warm spring weather. In particular, I'm looking forward to working in my garden and enjoying the colors and fragrances of blossoming trees and blooming flowers!

Alas, such beautiful sights and smells seem a long way off. It's cold, gray and blustery today, while last night we had snow! Of course, I can't complain – and am very careful not to around my friends. After all, I did recently enjoy two months of summer in Australia!

Still, I can't help but long for spring to kiss the earth here in Minnesota.

. . . I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. . . .

– An excerpt from
Ode to a Nightingale (1819)
by John Keats

Notes Wikipedia about this poem:

. . . According to Keats' friend Charles Armitage Brown, a nightingale had built its nest near Keat's home in the spring of 1819. Inspired by the bird's song, Keats composed the poem in one day. It soon became one of his 1819 odes and was first published in Annals of the Fine Arts the following July. "Ode to a Nightingale" is a personal poem that describes Keats's journey into the state of Negative Capability. The tone of the poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats's earlier poems, and it explores the themes of nature, transience and mortality, the latter being particularly personal to Keats.

The nightingale described within the poem experiences a type of death but it does not actually die. Instead, the songbird is capable of living through its song, which is a fate that humans cannot expect. The poem ends with an acceptance that pleasure cannot last and that death is an inevitable part of life.

The images that accompany this post are from the 2009 film Bright Star, a British/Australian/French co-production based on the last three years of the life of poet John Keats and his romantic relationship with Fanny Brawne. It stars Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny. It was directed by Jane Campion, who wrote the screenplay, and inspired by the biography of Keats by Andrew Motion, who served as a script consultant on the film. Bright Star is one of my all-time favorite films. If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend you do!

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