"IF any man feels no joy in the spring, then has he no warm blood in his veins!" So said one of the old dramatists, two hundred years ago; and so we repeat his very words in this month of May, eighteen hundred and fifty. Not to feel the sweet influences of this young and creative season, is indeed like being blind to the dewy brightness of the rainbow, or deaf to the rich music of the mocking-bird. Why, everything feels it; the gushing, noisy brook; the full-throated robin; the swallows circling and sailing through the air. Even the old rocks smile, and look less hard and stony; or at least try to by the help of the moss, lately grown green in the rain and sunshine of April. And, as Lowell has so finely said,
"Every clod feels a stir of might, An instinct within it that reaches and towers;
And grasping blindly above it for light, Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers".
From the time when the maple hangs out its little tufts of ruddy threads on the wood side, or the first crocus astonishes us with its audacity in embroidering the ground with gold almost before the snow has left it, until June flings us her first garlands of roses to tell us that summer is at hand, all is excitement in the country - real poetic excitement - some spark of which even the dullest souls that follow the oxen must feel.
"No matter how barren the past may have been, 'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green".
And you, most sober and practical of men, as you stand in your orchard and see the fruit trees all dressed in spring robes of white, and pink, and blush, and immediately set about divining what a noble crop you will have, "if nothing happens" - meaning, thereby, if everything happens as nature for the most part makes it happen - you, too, are a little of a poet in spite of yourself. You imagine - you hope - you believe - and, from that delicate gossamer fabric of peach blossoms, you conjure out of the future, bushels of downy, ripe, ruddy, and palpable, though melting rareripes, every one of which is such as was never seen but at prize exhibitions, when gold medals bring out horticultural prodigies. If this is not being a poet - a practical one, if you please, but still a poet - then are there no gay colors in peacocks' tails.
* Original date of May, 1850.
And as for our lady readers in the country, who hang over the sweet firstlings of the flowers that the spring gives us, with as fresh and as pure a delight every year as if the world (and violets) were just new born, and had not been convulsed, battered, and torn by earthquakes, wars, and revolutions, for more than six thousand years; why, we need not waste time in proving them to be poets, and their lives - or at least all that part of them passed in delicious rambles in the woods, or sweet toils in the garden - pure poetry. However stupid the rest of creation may be, they, at least, see and understand that those early gifts of the year, yes, and the very spring itself, are types of fairer and better things. They, at least, feel that this wonderful resurrection of life and beauty out of the death-sleep of winter, has a meaning in it that should bring glad tears into our eyes, being, as it is, a foreshadowing of that transformation and awakening of us all in the spiritual spring of another and a higher life.
The flowers of spring are not so gay and gorgeous as those of summer and autumn. Except those flaunting gentlemen-ushers the Dutch tulips (which, indeed, have been coaxed into gay liveries since Mynheer fell sick of flori-mania), the spring blossoms are delicate, modest, and subdued in color, and with something more of freshness and vivacity about them than is common in the lilies, roses, and dahlias of a later and hotter time of the year. The fact that the violet blooms in the spring, is of itself enough to make the season dear to us. We do not now mean the pansy, or three-colored violet - the Johnny-jump-up of the cottager - that little, roguish coquette of a blossom, all animation and boldness - but the true violet of the poets; the delicate, modest, retiring violet, dim, "But sweeter than the lid's of Juno's eyes, Or Cytherea's breath".
The flower that has been loved, and praised, and petted, and cultivated, at least three thousand years, and is not in the least spoiled by it; nay, has all the unmistakable freshness still, of a nature ever young and eternal.
There is a great deal, too, in the associations that cluster about spring flowers. Take that early yellow flower, popularly known as "Butter and Eggs," and the most common bulb in all our gardens, though introduced from abroad. It is not handsome, certainly, although one always welcomes its hardy face with pleasure; but when we know that it suggested that fine passage to Shakespeare - "Daffodils That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty" we feel that the flower is for ever immortalized; and though not half so handsome as our native blood-root, with its snowy petals, or our wood anemone, tinged like the first blush of morning, yet still the daffodil, embalmed by poesy, like a fly in amber, has a value given it by human genius that causes it to stir the imagination more than the most faultless and sculpture-like camellia that ever bloomed in marble conservatory.
A pleasant task it would be to linger over the spring flowers, taking them up one by one, and inhaling all their fragrance and poetry, leisurely - whether the cowslips, hyacinths, daisies, and hawthorns of the garden, or the honeysuckles, trilliums, wild moccasins, and liverworts of the woods. But we should grow garrulous on the subject and the season, if we were to wander thus into details.
Among all the flowers of spring, there are, however, few that surpass in delicacy, freshness, and beauty, that common and popular thing, an apple blossom. Certainly, no one would plant an apple tree in his park or pleasure ground; for, like a hard day-laborer, it has a bent and bowed-down look in its head and branches, that ill accord with the graceful bending of the elm, or the well-rounded curve of the maple. But as the day laborer has a soul, which at one time or another must blossom in all its beauty, so too has the apple-tree a flower that challenges the world to surpass it, whether for the delicacy with which the white and red are blended - as upon the cheek of fairest maiden of sixteen - or the wild grace and symmetry of its cinquefoil petals, or the harmony of its coloring heightened by the tender verdure of the bursting leaves that surround it. We only mention this to show what a wealth of beauty there is in common and familiar objects in the country; and if any of our town readers are so unfortunate as never to have seen an apple orchard in full bloom, then have they lost one of the fairest sights that the month of April has in her kaleidoscope.