The First Spring Day

by Christina Rossetti

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.

I wonder if the springtide of this year
Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;
If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,
Or if the world alone will bud and sing:
Sing, hope, to me;
Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory.

The sap will surely quicken soon or late,
The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;
So Spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom,
Or in this world, or in the world to come:
Sing, voice of Spring,
Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.

Freaks of Fashion

a springlike poem by Christina Rossetti.

Such a hubbub in the nests,
Such a bustle and squeak!
Nestlings, guiltless of a feather,
Learning just to speak,
Ask—“And how about the fashions?”
From a cavernous beak.

Perched on bushes, perched on hedges,
Perched on firm hahas,
Perched on anything that holds them,
Gay papas and grave mammas
Teach the knowledge-thirsty nestlings:
Hear the gay papas.

Robin says: “A scarlet waistcoat
Will be all the wear,
Snug, and also cheerful-looking
For the frostiest air,
Comfortable for the chest too
When one comes to plume and pair.”

“Neat gray hoods will be in vogue,”
Quoth a Jackdaw: “Glossy gray,
Setting close, yet setting easy,
Nothing fly-away;
Suited to our misty mornings,
A la negligée.”

Flushing salmon, flushing sulphur,
Haughty Cockatoos
Answer—“Hoods may do for mornings,
But for evenings choose
High head-dresses, curved like crescents,
Such as well-bred persons use.”

“Top-knots, yes; yet more essential
Still, a train or tail,”
Screamed the Peacock: “Gemmed and lustrous
Not too stiff, and not too frail;
Those are best which rearrange as
Fans, and spread or trail.”

Spoke the Swan, entrenched behind
An inimitable neck:
“After all, there’s nothing sweeter
For the lawn or lake
Than simple white, if fine and flaky
And absolutely free from speck.”

“Yellow,” hinted a Canary,
“Warmer, not less distingué.”
“Peach color,” put in a Lory,
“Cannot look outré.”
“All the colors are in fashion,
And are right,” the Parrots say.

“Very well. But do contrast
Tints harmonious,”
Piped a Blackbird, justly proud
Of bill auriferous;
“Half the world may learn a lesson
As to that from us.”

Then a Stork took up the word:
“Aim at height and chic:
Not high heels, they’re common; somehow,
Stilted legs, not thick,
Nor yet thin:” he just glanced downward
And snapped to his beak.

Here a rustling and a whirring,
As of fans outspread,
Hinted that mammas felt anxious
Lest the next thing said
Might prove less than quite judicious,
Or even underbred.

So a mother Auk resumed
The broken thread of speech:
“Let colors sort themselves, my dears,
Yellow, or red, or peach;
The main points, as it seems to me,
We mothers have to teach,

“Are form and texture, elegance,
An air reserved, sublime;
The mode of wearing what we wear
With due regard to month and clime.
But now, let’s all compose ourselves,
It’s almost breakfast-time.”

A hubbub, a squeak, a bustle!
Who cares to chatter or sing
With delightful breakfast coming?
Yet they whisper under the wing:
“So we may wear whatever we like,
Anything, everything!”

Robin Redbreast tunes his Note

Sometimes, I draw. That is—normally not only sometimes, as of lately not even that.

I am very fond of robins. (And all other birds. And animals. I don’t mean to say that I have a preference for robins. But I like them very, very much.) They are lovely to look at, given much attention in European mythology and culture, and a popular motif in art and literature—as a symbol of Christmas as much as a bringer of Spring, and according to an old story, the reason some trees are evergreens and others lose their leaves in Winter.

I actually have a book about robins near me, Redbreast: The Robin in Life and Literature by Andrew Lack, a biologist (specialised in botany) and son of the ornithologist David Lack. Redbreast is remarkable in particular because it pays equal attention to robin in a scientific as well as a cultural way. I recommend it immensely—plenty of pictures and poems within an abundance of knowledge!

As for my picture, you can buy prints and other nice, printed things on my redbubble shop. Cups, pillows, dresses—the usual. ♥