TCS: Spring’s Perfect Imminent Hour

Good Morning!


“What potent blood hath modest May.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“… honey-sweet May, when the birds come
back, and the flowers come out, and the
air is full of the sunrise scents …”
Samuel Scoville Jr.,
   American writer and naturalist


13 poets this week, and Spring is
peeking out of some of their poems


May 7


1812Robert Browning born in Camberwell, a middle-class suburb of London, the only son a clerk in the Bank of England, and a devoutly religious German-Scotch mother who loved music. Browning’s father amassed a personal library of some 6,000 volumes, many of them collections of arcane lore and historical anecdotes that the poet plundered for poetic material, including “The Pied Piper.” Browning has come to be regarded as a major Victorian poet, and his approach to dramatic monologue has influenced countless poets for almost a century. His love for and marriage to poet and semi-invalid Elizabeth Barrett led to living in Italy for its drier, warmer climate. Browning’s work had already come under harsh criticism, and interest in his poetry faded as he remained in Italy.  It wasn’t until he returned to England after Elizabeth’s death in 1861 that his work began to be re-evaluated. He died at age 77 in December 1889 at his son’s home in Venice, Italy.  Asolando, his last volume of poetry, was published on the day of his death.

 A Face

by Robert Browning

If one could have that little head of hers
Painted upon a background of pale gold,
Such as the Tuscan’s early art prefers!
No shade encroaching on the matchless mould
Of those two lips, which should be opening soft
In the pure profile; not as when she laughs,
For that spoils all: but rather as if aloft
Yon hyacinth, she loves so, leaned its staff’s
Burthen of honey-coloured buds to kiss
And capture ’twixt the lips apart for this.
Then her lithe neck, three fingers might surround,
How it should waver on the pale gold ground,
Up to the fruit-shaped, perfect chin it lifts!
I know, Correggio loves to mass, in rifts
Of heaven, his angel faces, orb on orb
Breaking its outline, burning shades absorb:
But these are only massed there, I should think,
Waiting to see some wonder momently
Grow out, stand full, fade slow against the sky
(That’s the pale ground you’d see this sweet face by),
All heaven, meanwhile, condensed into one eye
Which fears to lose the wonder, should it wink.

1861Rabindranath Tagore born in Calcutta in British India (now Kolkata); Bengali poet, author, essayist, philosopher, playwright, composer, social reformer, and painter who had a major influence on Bengali literature and music.  He wrote Thought Relics in English, but much of his other work has been widely translated.

 Where the Mind Is Without Fear

 by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.


1940Angela Carter born as Angela Olive Pearce in Eastbourne, on England’s south coast; prolific and eclectic English novelist, short story writer, children’s author, poet, journalist, and radio dramatist. Best known for her feminist and magical realist works, including her novels Shadow Dance, The Magic Toyshop, The Passion of New Eve, and Nights at the Circus, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her poetry collections are Five Quiet Shouters and Unicorn. She also wrote Memory Chose a Woman’s Body, a memoir in poetry. Carter died of lung cancer at age 51 in 1992.

 My Cat in Her First Spring

by Angela Carter

With the spring coming, my cat is beginning to bud,
sprouting nipples all long her long, white breast,
this long-legged, adolescent she.

And in the strange country
fitfully lit by the inward-turning suns of her yellow
eyes, such alien trees shake out moist leaf

and the seed-crusted ferns uncoil with a slow blindness
in the rich fruit-cake of her dark recesses where the wrinkled
intuitions of her summer roses stir and tremble in their sleep

for spring is coming, and the fat bulbs bulge.

“My Cat in Her First Spring” from Unicorn: The Poetry of Angela Carter – Profile Books, 2016 edition


May 8


1930Gary Snyder born in San Francisco; American poet, essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder has been called the “Thoreau of the Beat Generation” and the “Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology.”

from Four Poems for Robin:

A spring night in Shokoku-ji

by Gary Snyder

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

“Four Poems for Robin” from The Back Country, © 1968 by Gary Snyder – New Directions Publishing


May 9


1921 – Mona Van Duyn born in Waterloo, Iowa; American poet, editor, and academic; U.S. Poet Laureate (1992-1993). She won most of the major U.S. prizes for poetry: Bollingen Prize (1971); National Book Award for Poetry (1971); Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts (1972); Shelley Memorial Award (1987); Ruth Lily Poetry Prize (1989); and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1991). She taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1940s. Van Duyn was co-founder and co-editor with her husband Jarvis Thurston of Perspective: A Quarterly of Literature and the Arts (1947-1975).  Her many poetry collections include: A Time of Bees; To See, To Take: PoemsNear ChangesFirefall; and If It Be Not I: Collected Poems, 1959-1982. She died at age 83 of bone cancer in December 2004.

The Burning of Yellowstone

by Mona Van Duyn

Squaring their papers—tap, tap—the news team finds
one last feature to catch St. Louis ears
following days of rage and roar on the screen
as feather, fur, nest, cave, hide disappears.
“Don’t miss the sunset tonight or tomorrow night!”
For two thousand miles, it appears, wind bore to the eye
smoke from unseen deaths and wounds to remind us
how beautiful, at the end, is the earth, the sky.
Driving west from the towers that block our view
we find a hillside pull-off. Every sense
confounded by the vision that wraps us round,
we feel to the bone its burning radiance.
Orange daylily uncurls its lips and presses
them urgently on the blue-veined brown of space.
Rose at its ripest spreads wide from its fervent petals
to welcome the other hues. An intense trace
of crushed violet scent lies on the air.
Petunia tongues a pink both sweet and clear.
Fallout of deep red peony litters the treeline.
We take each other’s hand, eyes wet, and hear
how gently the world informs its witnesses
as jonquil yellow trumpets a floral boom,
of its debt to the artistry of their beholding,
of their culpability for its final bloom.

“The Burning of Yellowstone” © 1990 by Mona Van Duyn, appeared in the March 1990 issue of Poetry magazine


1938Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia); his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1954 when he was 16, and lived in the Chicago area. Simic is a prolific Serbian-American poet, editor, translator, and essayist. He has published over 30 books of poetry, and won the Wallace Stevens Award. Charles Simic was the 15th U.S. Poet Laureate (2007-2008).

Late Arrival

by Charles Simic

The world was already here
Serene in its otherness.
It only took you to arrive
On the later afternoon train
To where no one awaited you.

A town no one ever remembered
Because of its drabness
Where you lost your way
Searching for a place to stay
In a maze of identical streets.

It was then that you heard,
As if for the very first time,
The sound of your own footsteps
Under a church clock
Which had stopped just as you did

Between two empty streets
Aglow in the afternoon sunlight
Two modest stretches of infinity
For you to wonder at
Before resuming your walk.

“Late Arrival” © 1993 by Charles Simic, appeared in the October 1993 issue of Poetry magazine


1951Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a member of the Mvskoke tribe, and a highly influential figure in the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico, and an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Creative Writing Program. Harjo is the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Eagle Spirit Achievement Award, the Wallace Stevens Award in Poetry by the Academy of American Poets, and Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. In 2019, she became the first Native American to be named as U.S. Poet Laureate, and served three terms (2019-2022).


by Joy Harjo

a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains
she must recognize
the foreverness of blue sky
she must flow
with the elusive
of night winds
who will take her
into herself

look at me
i am not a separate woman
i am a continuance
of blue sky
i am the throat
of the mountains
a night wind
who burns
with every breath
she takes

“Fire” from What Moon Drove Me to This?, © 1979 by Joy Harjo – Reed Cannon & Johnson Publishers


May 10


1936Jayne Cortez was in born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, when her father was stationed there as a soldier, and grew up in Los Angeles, California. She was an African-American jazz poet, activist, spoken-word artist, and founder-publisher of Bola Press. Cortez was honored with the Langston Hughes Medal in 2002.  She died in New York City at age 78 of heart failure in December 2012.

The Oppressionists

by Jayne Cortez

what do the art
care about art
they jump on bandwagons
wallow in press clips
& stink up the planet
with their
pornographic oppression
what do they care about art
they go from being
contemporary baby kissers to
old time corrupt politicians
to self-appointed censorship clerks
who won’t support art
but will support war
lung cancer
and toxic sludge
that’s their morality
that’s their religious conviction
that’s their protection of the public
& contribution to family entertainment
what do they care about art

“The Oppressionists” from On the Imperial Highway, © 2009 by Jayne Cortez –
Hanging Loose Press


May 11


1901Rose Ausländer born in Cernauti, Austria-Hungary, Jewish poet who wrote in both German and English; editor of the U.S. German language newspaper Westlicher Herold.  She had immigrated to the U.S. in 1921, but returned to Cernauti in 1926 to care for her ailing mother, and lost her U.S. citizenship in 1931 because she had been out of the U.S. for too long. Most of the copies of her first books of poems were destroyed when the Nazis occupied Cernauti in 1941, and she became a forced laborer in the ghetto for two years, then went into hiding to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. In 1944, she returned to America, but in 1967 she moved back to Europe and settled in Düsseldorf, where she died at age 86 in 1988.


by Rose Ausländer

My fatherland is dead
they buried it
in the fire

I live
in my motherland

“motherland” from While I am Drawing Breath, by Rose Ausländer, translated by Anthony Vivis and Jean Boise-Beier – ARC Publications, 2014 edition


May 12


1812Edward Lear was born in the Holloway district of London, in Great Britain. He was quite famous as an English artist, illustrator, musician, author, and poet, but is now remembered mostly for his limericks, a form which he helped popularize.

There Was an Old Man in a Tree

by Edward Lear

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a bee.
When they said “Does it buzz?”
He replied “Yes, it does!
It’s a regular brute of a bee!”


1828Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in London; co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English painters, poets, and critics in the mid-19th century, who were a major influence on the European Symbolists, the Aesthetic movement, and the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He died at age 53 of Bright’s Disease in 1882.


by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Soft-Littered is the new-year’s lambing-fold,
And in the hollowed haystack at its side
The shepherd lies o’ nights now, wakeful-eyed
At the ewes’ travailing call through the dark cold.
The young rooks cheep ‘mid the thick caw o’ the old:
And near unpeopled stream-sides, on the ground,
By her spring-cry the moorhen’s nest is found,
Where the drained flood-lands flaunt their marigold.
Chill are the gusts to which the pastures cower,
And chill the current where the young reeds stand
As green and close as the young wheat on land:
Yet here the cuckoo and the cuckoo-flower
Plight to the heart Spring’s perfect imminent hour
Whose breath shall soothe you like your dear one’s hand.


May 13


1904Earl Birney was born in Calgary, Alberta, and raised on a farm in southeastern British Columbia; Canadian poet and novelist who twice won the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s top literary honour, for The Last David and Other Poems in 1942 and Now is the Time in 1945. He died at age 91 of a heart attack in 1995.

Plaza De La Inquisición

                                 (for pat)

by Earl Birney

A spider’s body
limp and hairy
appeared at the bottom of my coffee
The waiter being Castilian
said passionately nothing
And why indeed should apologies
be made to me
It was I who was looking in
at the spider
It might be years
before I slipped and drowned
in somebody else’s cup

“Plaza De La Inquisición” from The Collected Poems of Earle Birney, © 1975 by Earle Birney – McClelland and Stewart


1962Kathleen Jamie born in Edinburgh and raised in nearby Currie; Scottist poet and essayist; appointed in 2021 as Makar (National Poet for Scotland) for a three year term.  Her poetry collections include The Queen of Sheba, The Tree House (2004 winner of the Scottish Book of the Year Award and the Forward Poetry Prize), The Overhaul, and The Bonniest Companie.

Poem for Today

by Kathleen Jamie

Bird at the top of the world,
who knew
it would come to this?
What are you
singing? What are you
singing for?
Perhaps you just can’t
help yourself. Over
the entire hemisphere
your flute-phrases fall,
announcing spring again
– our northern spring,
stirring deep and dark
within bare forests,
advancing across plains
toward great cities
with their tatty city parks,
their plane-trees
shading street cafes.
Even the seas
present no obstacle,
no border, because
you’re welcome, bird,
singing at the top of the world.

“Poem for Today” was written in Kathleen Jamie’s official role as Scotland’s Makar – © 2022 by Kathleen Jamie


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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3 Responses to TCS: Spring’s Perfect Imminent Hour

  1. Lesley Papola says:

    Hello Nona,

    You’ve been on my mind a lot. I was wondering if you’d be open to meeting me and Cenna in the near future. My life took a strange turn over the last 3 1/2 years and now that the dust has settled I wondered if we could meet? Looking forward to your thoughts.

    ~Dex (707) 338-2315

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