The Spring Has Many Silences

- 1901-1991

The spring has many sounds:
Roller skates grind the pavement to noisy dust.
Birds chop the still air into small melodies.
The wind forgets to be the weather for a time
And whispers old advice for summer.
The sea stretches itself
And gently creaks and cracks its bones….

The spring has many silences:
Buds are mysteriously unbound
With a discreet significance,
And buds say nothing.

There are things that even the wind will not betray.
Earth puts her finger to her lips
And muffles there her quiet, quick activity….

Do not wonder at me
That I am hushed
This April night beside you.

The spring has many silences.

Related Poems

Spring Morning

O day—if I could cup my hands and drink of you,
And make this shining wonder be
A part of me!
O day! O day!
You lift and sway your colors on the sky
Till I am crushed with beauty. Why is there
More of reeling sunlit air
Than I can breathe? Why is there sound
In silence? Why is a singing wound
About each hour?
And perfume when there is no flower?
O day! O Day! How may I press
Nearer to loveliness?

Song of a Second April

April this year, not otherwise
   Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
   Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
   Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
   And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
   The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
   The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
   Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
   Go up the hillside in the sun,
   Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

April

From the French of the Vidame de Chartres

When the fields catch flower
   And the underwood is green,
And from bower unto bower
   The songs of the birds begin,
   I sing with sighing between.
When I laugh and sing,
   I am heavy at heart for my sin;
I am sad in the spring
   For my love that I shall not win,
For a foolish thing.

This profit I have of my woe,
   That I know, as I sing,
I know he will needs have it so
   Who is master and king,
   Who is lord of the spirit of spring.
I will serve her and will not spare
   Till her pity awake
Who is good, who is pure, who is fair,
   Even her for whose sake
Love hath ta'en me and slain unaware.

O my lord, O Love,
   I have laid my life at thy feet;
Have thy will thereof,
   Do as it please thee with it,
   For what shall please thee is sweet.
I am come unto thee
   To do thee service, O Love;
Yet cannot I see
   Thou wilt take any pity thereof,
Any mercy on me.

But the grace I have long time sought
   Comes never in sight,
If in her it abideth not,
   Through thy mercy and might,
   Whose heart is the world's delight.
Thou hast sworn without fail I shall die,
   For my heart is set
On what hurts me, I wot not why,
   But cannot forget
What I love, what I sing for and sigh.

She is worthy of praise,
   For this grief of her giving is worth
All the joy of my days
   That lie between death's day and birth,
   All the lordship of things upon earth.
Nay, what have I said?
   I would not be glad if I could;
My dream and my dread
   Are of her, and for her sake I would
That my life were fled.

Lo, sweet, if I durst not pray to you,
   Then were I dead;
If I sang not a little to say to you,
   (Could it be said)
   O my love, how my heart would be fed;
Ah sweet who hast hold of my heart,
   For thy love's sake I live,
Do but tell me, ere either depart,
   What a lover may give
For a woman so fair as thou art.

The lovers that disbelieve,
   False rumours shall grieve
And evil-speaking shall part.