Spring: ‘a spirit of youth in every thing’
Is there anything better than British springtime? Tomorrow marks the official beginning of the new season. It is a time of renewal that has inspired poets and artists for centuries…
The snow may only just be melting, but officially the UK’s long, cold winter is almost over for another year.
Tomorrow in the early hours of the morning, the vernal equinox will mark the Northern Hemisphere’s entry into spring. On Sunday, the clocks will spring forward as the season promises more hours of daylight.
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart,” wrote the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Why has this season been so romanticised by artists and poets throughout history?
For many, it is because it is a time of renewal, in religion as well as nature. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus three days after the crucifixion. Meanwhile, plants start to bloom and animals begin to reproduce. Lambs appear in the fields and chicks hatch.
For others, this movement from winter to summer means that it is also a season of juxtaposition. The sunniest mornings can be the coldest; daffodils can be surrounded by snow. And for some writers, the hopeful feelings of rebirth do not make sense without thinking about death. Spring is a time of grief as well as hope.
There is no season like British springtime, say some. The country’s mild climate means that for a few months, its people are treated to the best of all weather, while the flowers and fields around them burst into life. Whether you find the symbolism of springtime hopeful or sad, there is no other season which has such a powerful effect on our emotions.
Don’t be so sure, say others. The Japanese cherry blossom festival is one of the most beautiful sights you could imagine. And why should spring get all the glory? Just think of autumn in New York City, when the deep red and orange leaves of Central Park give a similar feeling of warmth and melancholy.
- What is your favourite season?
- Write a poem or draw a picture which sums up how you feel about spring.
Some People Say...
“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.”Virginia Woolf
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- In Sonnet 98, Shakespeare wrote that spring puts “a spirit of youth in every thing” (inspiring the headline for this article). Spring will officially arrive tomorrow, on the vernal equinox. (See word watch.)
- What do we not know?
- Whether the snow and cold is truly over for the year, although forecasts predict that temperatures will pick up over the next few days.
- Vernal equinox
- The Earth is tilted on its axis, meaning the two hemispheres are exposed to different amounts of sun as the planet makes its orbit. At the equinox, day and night are about equal. The vernal equinox happens in March, as the Northern Hemisphere moves towards longer, warmer days.
- In the Bible, Jesus is crucified on Good Friday and his body laid in a tomb. On Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene visited the tomb and found that his body was gone; Jesus was alive.
- Two things placed together to produce a contrast.