SOLSC & Poetry Friday: March 11, 2016: The sounds of Spring

Thursday was a tough day at school.  The first brush with Spring tends to make my students antsy.  They begin to look out the windows more, and they begin yearning to be outside …right now!   They are distracted and dreamy, bedazzled by the sunshine and warm breezes, and reluctant to bring their thoughts back indoors – to the work that sits waiting to be done.  They are irritable about having to get their books, write, read, and think. Really? they ask, we have to work? why can’t we just go outside and play?  And then there is the pushing and shoving – the need to make contact with a nudge here and a poke there.  Which, of course, brings on the whining.  He’s bothering me with his breathing. I had the rocking chair first and then he stole it when I went to get my pencil. 

Thursday was a tough day.

On my usual after-school walk with Sophie, I couldn’t help but think about how often things had gone awry at school.  Spring has arrived at last, and my spirits should be lifting…I needed to shake off the day and find my Spring groove again.  We made our way back home again, and I just could not bring myself to go indoors again.  So Sophie and I plonked ourselves down in the backyard, and just sat quietly in a pool of  afternoon sun.  We warmed ourselves and listened to birds singing all over the place.  It was lovely – all of us rejoicing in Spring.


birds on a tree

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

-Mary Oliver









27 thoughts on “SOLSC & Poetry Friday: March 11, 2016: The sounds of Spring

  1. I know the feeling…when they just want to be outside, it’s hard to get them to focus. Perhaps change your plans and teach outside. You could be observers and write some poetry about nature. 🙂 Hope Friday is better!

  2. Thank you for bringing some perspective on what is happening in my classroom! It’s spring…

    This is a beautiful poem. As I’m waking up in the morning, I have noticed that there are many songs being sung in our trees.

  3. You always seem to find the perfect poetic remedy. “Does your soul need comforting?” Mary Oliver does not disappoint. Hope today is better.

  4. My friends also have Spring Fever and trouble settling down. 6 schools day until Spring Break (yes, I’m counting!!) Your post reminds me we ALL need to just pause and take in Spring’s gift of warmth and light! And I love the poem you matched to your own writing! Thanks for sharing. Have a great Friday!

  5. Shake it off and hang out with Sophie. I love it. That robin is so beautiful and Mary Oliver is perfection as always. xo

  6. Deep gratitude for the Mary Oliver. Her words always bowl me over and make me wait for the strike to occur at the end. The photo at the top of your blog of a fallow field is very inspiring. Thank you for today’s post which affected me deeply.

  7. Mary Oliver is a favorite of mine, too. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem and reminding me of the beauty in the sounds of spring. And the description of your class was so true. What do you think would happen if you just read them poetry on a day like that?

  8. Wonderful, and not surprised. Sorry for the tough day. That barometer changing does it every time. I am “flying on my heavy feet” to change the sprinkler, watering already, but it takes me outside once again, to listen and smell and be. I love it all, but “and the sands in the glass
    stopped”. How does she do it, bring forth those wonderful images? Thanks, Tara, hope Friday is good!

  9. Love the description of your students – distracted, dreamy, and bedazzled! And the poem (new for me) is perfect. With this wonderful thought: “..and once you’ve been there, you’re there forever.” Happy Friday, Tara!

  10. First signs of spring are special ones but they let the mind become distracted as evidenced by your students. We all have moments that take us away from our learning or participation in life. Your walk with Sophie and drifting off into happy musings were just what you needed to find the peace in the coming spring. I just listened to Mary Oliver read her “Wild Geese” poem and now I got a second treat with the poem you showcased. Soak in the power of springtime air this weekend, Tara.

  11. It is interesting to notice “spring fever” is still an issue in this land of endless summer. The changing landscape outside the windows makes it harder I think, but my students are restless nonetheless. I love the way you turned your day around. Thanks for sharing the poem- beautiful!

  12. What a perfect poem for this week. You always share the best poems, so wonderfully aligned with events from your life. Loved hearing about your time outdoors with Sophie. 🙂

  13. Ahh…Thank you for this moment to sit quietly and savor.

    And on the subject of “things go awry”…isn’t it usually the case, too, that after a day like yours that brings you down, they come back to a fresh new day the next and rebound in glorious ways? I usually forget that things go well as quickly as they go awry. I bog down in awry. (But then the wondrous is even better, so…hmm….)

  14. Damn, that Mary Oliver is good!

    I love waking up and hearing the birds once again. Here’s the final stanza of “Before Breakfast” by Elizabeth Coatsworth:

    But the robins! the robins! how they were singing!
    Each one alone in the top of a tree,
    Singing so loud (and all before breakfast)
    Such a fine song for the sunrise and me!

  15. “when I seemed to float,
    to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
    and I began to understand
    what the bird was saying”

    I am amazed at your ability to find the quintessential poem for the moment.

  16. That poem! I’d never read it before. So lovely and powerful. What a beautiful ending to your stressful day. I like picturing you and Sophie in a pool of afternoon sunlight.

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