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Poetry of Nature | Early Spring | Geoff Oelsner

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Geoff’s Giftings for March, 2023

A honey bee balances on a light green iris blade beneath a clump of blue and white petaled grape hyacinth blossoms. The bee feeds from one of the blue and white grape hyacinth blossoms. Her pollen basket on her hind leg is a full greenish round ball. Her wings are clear with delicate brown veins. Her eyes encircle her heart shaped head, her antennae point toward the flower from which she feeds.
Honey bee in grape hyacinth

Dear PON Friends,

This day is a gift.

“Nothing is so beautiful as spring–

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring

The ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing…”

from “Spring,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Here it comes! Green tongues poke up out of the snow. Wind wags them around and their soft songs stream down. The Solar Wheel has spun us back to this time of natural revival. Here in the Northern Hemisphere this year, the Spring Equinox arrives on March 20 at 5:24 PM Eastern time.

I’ve actively addressed environmental issues as a community organizer, researcher and activist for over forty years. I’m convinced that our loving communion with the earth can inform and strengthen our grassroots environmental and political activism.

Our planetary predicament calls for all possible creative responses. It calls us to turn and tap into the catalyzing intelligence of Nature. We interbe with the Earth and each other. That being so, we can bless the Earth and each other.

Every little bit of love, attunement, creative expression and blessing can help as we continue the Great Turning. May Spring contribute to building a collective, creative Blessing Field.

Herewith are five spring poems. As you take them in, notice whatever word, phrase, line, image, idea, rhythm, rhyme, “music” or whole felt sense of any poem most moves you, whether that be simply inwardly, or as a possible prompt to write your own poem or song. Just enjoy these poems of renewal.

Fuzzy lamb's ear wakes up for spring. A new bud nestles in the center of the soft, fuzzy triangle shaped leaves. To the right are a pair of buttercups on either side of the forked green stem. Lacy buttercup leaves round out this photo.
Lamb's ear and buttercups

Ralph Waldo Emerson lived from 1803 to 1882. His poem “The World Soul” was first published in 1847, twenty years after the first railroad in North America — the Baltimore & Ohio — was chartered by Baltimore merchants in 1827, and only three years after the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” was sent in May 24, 1844.

This prophetic early poem by Emerson reveals some of the historical roots of our present cultural and climate self-mutilations, and chants essential present and future truths to me.

“He forbids to despair.” He begins with reverent thanks.


The World Soul

Thanks to the morning light,

Thanks to the seething sea,

To the uplands of New Hampshire,

To the green-haired forest free;

Thanks to each man of courage,

To the maids of holy mind,

To the boy with his games undaunted,

Who never looks behind.

Cities of proud hotels,

Houses of rich and great,

Vice nestles in your chambers,

Beneath your roofs of slate.

It cannot conquer folly,

Time-and-space-conquering steam,—

And the light-outspeeding telegraph

Bears nothing on its beam.

The politics are base,

The letters do not cheer,

And 'tis far in the deeps of history—

The voice that speaketh clear.

Trade and the streets ensnare us,

Our bodies are weak and worn,

We plot and corrupt each other,

And we despoil the unborn.

Yet there in the parlor sits

Some figure of noble guise,

Our angel in a stranger's form,

Or woman's pleading eyes;

Or only a flashing sunbeam

In at the window pane;

Or music pours on mortals

Its beautiful disdain.

The inevitable morning

Finds them who in cellars be,

And be sure the all-loving Nature

Will smile in a factory.

Yon ridge of purple landscape,

Yon sky between the walls,

Hold all the hidden wonders

In scanty intervals.

Alas, the sprite that haunts us

Deceives our rash desire,

It whispers of the glorious gods,

And leaves us in the mire:

We cannot learn the cipher

That's writ upon our cell,

Stars help us by a mystery

Which we could never spell.

If but one hero knew it,

The world would blush in flame,

The sage, till he hit the secret,

Would hang his head for shame.

But our brothers have not read it,

Not one has found the key,

And henceforth we are comforted,

We are but such as they.

Still, still the secret presses,

The nearing clouds draw down,

The crimson morning flames into

The fopperies of the town.

Within, without, the idle earth

Stars weave eternal rings,

The sun himself shines heartily,

And shares the joy he brings.

And what if trade sow cities

Like shells along the shore,

And thatch with towns the prairie broad

With railways ironed o'er;—

They are but sailing foambells

Along Thought's causing stream,

And take their shape and Sun-color

From him that sends the dream.

For destiny does not like

To yield to men the helm,

And shoots his thought by hidden nerves

Throughout the solid realm.

The patient Dæmon sits

With roses and a shroud,

He has his way, and deals his gifts—

But ours is not allowed.

He is no churl or trifler,

And his viceroy is none,


Of genius sire and son;

And his will is not thwarted,—

The seeds of land and sea

Are the atoms of his body bright,

And his behest obey.

He serveth the servant,

The brave he loves amain,

He kills the cripple and the sick,

And straight begins again;

For gods delight in gods,

And thrust the weak aside;

To him who scorns their charities,

Their arms fly open wide.

When the old world is sterile,

And the ages are effete,

He will from wrecks and sediment

The fairer world complete.

He forbids to despair,

His cheeks mantle with mirth,

And the unimagined good of men

Is yearning at the birth.

Spring still makes spring in the mind,

When sixty years are told;

Love wakes anew this throbbing heart,

And we are never old.

Over the winter glaciers,

I see the summer glow,

And through the wild-piled snowdrift

The warm rose buds below.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Covenant of Spring

“Who can depart that never came,

return that never left?”

-Virginia Scott Miner (1901-1982)

poet, teacher and friend

As first lilac leaves arrive,

we turn toward warmth

with the rolling home

that gathers

no loss.

~ Geoff Oelsner

Spring Fool Song

Now our eyes turn to incense.

Children are in our bones.

The dog of the world has no home

but vacant skulls and vacant skulls

but where we step is a threshold.

Music clothes us.

Open your windows, fathers.

None but the sky can hold us.

Today welcome the Fool

who stands in her oval of gold.

Scoop up some of her joy

for yourself and dance.

Skip on the native rim of this world

and don’t mind the sting of the dollars

men fling at each other.

Hear the Fool’s flute play beyond that

and dance.

~ Geoff

In Late Sun, the River and Hills are Beautiful





chí rì jiāng shān lì Late sun river hill beautiful

chūn fēng huā cǎo xiāng Spring wind flower grass fragrant

ní róng fēi yàn zǐ Mud thaw fly swallow

shā nuǎn shuì yuān yāng Sand warm sleep mandarin duck

In late sun, the river and hills are beautiful,

The spring breeze bears the fragrance of flowers and grass.

The mud has thawed, and swallows fly around,

On the warm sand, mandarin ducks are sleeping.

~ Tu Fu (Tang Dynasty, China, 712-770 AD)

A Gift of Spring

It snowed today.

Not the snow of white

But a drift of petals pink

Like a flight of pillow down.

Each soft palm,

Landing on my soul.

~ Douglas Lewis

“Spring still makes spring in the mind…”

~ Emerson

Please Touch the Earth with Love,

Geoff Oelsner

A fuzzy verbonica magnolia bud on a thick stem is centered in this photo. The bud is green-grey, with delicate threads of maroon. There are 2 smaller buds beneath the large one.  The buds are surrounded by silvery bokeh. Taken by NanLeah at Whitney Gardens, Brinnon, Washington.
Verbonica magnolia buds


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