Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Opposites Attract (She Completes Me)

Map showing ten largest municipalities in Mich...Image via Wikipedia

While I drove my wife to work this morning, the beauty of the day drew out of my memory bank one of the first nature poems to which I was exposed, to wit:

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The birdies iz

E. responded that she was enamored of the very same poem at a similarly tender age, when it was one of the first windows for both of us into the whimsical power of irony -- except that in Michigan the payoff was

I wonder where
The flowers iz

At first I resisted that variant, since my first inclination was to prefer the notion of looking skyward, of the eyes lifted up as the spirit is lifted up on these first fine days, of the eye searching, questing, yearning and then to see the dot, the speck -- yes, there it is: a bird! a bird!

But almost at once I appreciated the organicism of her version, of the clean narrative line it implies, in that one indeed would naturally, when noting those first stirrings of the grass, yearn for the beauty of the flowers so long absent. Indeed, those very flowers might rise amid or directly adjacent to where the grass is struggling to appear.

Here is both literal and metaphorical focus.

But in the case of absent birds, for the poem to have a point one is necessarily referring to those that migrate, else the poem is in danger of falling into non sequitur. For some birds have endured among us all winter, and it seems ungracious to wonder where "the birdies" are when, in fact, *some* birds have never left us. And thus a poem of celebration could transform into a hymn to the fickleness of humanity, of our desire for incessantly fresh sensation, of disloyalty to nature, not its celebration.

I was abashed. Yes, E.'s version is superior. She's quite a wonder.
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Peter Moore said...

I was raised with the flowers version. Pittsburgh closer to Michigan I guess

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Or more birds. Or no birds at all until late May early June.