Some Rainbow – coming from the Fair!
Some Vision of the World Cashmere –
I confidently see!
Or else a Peacock's purple Train
Feather by feather – on the plain
Fritters itself away!
The dreamy Butterflies bestir!
Lethargic pools resume the whir
Of last year's sundered tune!
From some old Fortress on the sun
Baronial Bees – march – one by one –
In murmuring platoon!
The Robins stand as thick today
As flakes of snow stood yesterday –
On fence – and Roof – and Twig!
The Orchis binds her feather on
For her old lover - Don the Sun!
Revisiting the Bog!
Without Commander! Countless! Still!
The Regiments of Wood and Hill
In bright detachment stand!
Behold! Whose Multitudes are these?
The children of whose turbaned seas –
Or what Circassian Land?
F162 (1860) 64
Ah Spring! How many ways can we describe your joys? Emily Dickinson gives it a good go in this poem. New England winters are notoriously cold and Dickinson’s activity was restricted to house and garden, so spring would be particularly important to her.
Spring is going to a delightful fair, full of food and color and excitement, and then returning under the beautiful benefice of a rainbow. Or it is like a vision out of the glorious mountains of Cashmere (Kashmir today, a region jointly administered by Pakistan, India, and China). Then again, think of the purple and turquoise opalescence of peacock feathers fanning out against a flat landscape and then feathers everywhere. That is all in the first stanza! The “p” alliterations (Peacock’s / purple / plain) and “f” alliterations (feather / feather / fritters) help bind the stanza together.
The second stanza take us to a little pool in a flowery wood (the Dickinson property had just this environment, and Amherst is set amid New England woods). Here, after winter’s short cold days lengthen into warm spring, the “dreamy Butterflies bestir” and the pool begins to hum with its dragon and damselflies, the skritching of kaydid and whirring grasshoppers along its banks. I love the “Baronial Bees” on their stately march from their castle. They’ve finally arrived from the sun and march about in a “murmuring platoon” as if they were young lads again. I’m picturing bumblebees as their beautiful black and gold liveries do look very baronial and they do seem to hawk and murmer like old nobility.
Robins, harbingers of spring, are all out, taking their positions all around the house. And in the boggy spot there is an orchid who is tying on her lovely feather for Sir Sun. That’s a very nice image as well!. So nice, Don Sun, for you to visit the bog again.
And all of this happens without a visible chain of command. Multitudes and regiments of flowers, budding trees, and blooming vines present themselves. The “children of … turbaned seas” or “Circassian Land (mountainous region of the Caucasus in central Eurasia, near Georgia and Turkey and the Black Sea) might well be the Turkish tulip. Turkey was tulip-ville long before Holland).
The poet’s excitement is visible not only in the exotic range of locales and images of new life (and even the sexy seduction of the sun), but by loads of exclamation points – several in every stanza. It’s a lovely spring poem.