Shakespeare on Spring

Sonnet 98

From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odor and in hue,

Could make me any summer’s story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.

Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,

Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;

They were but sweet, but figures of delight,

Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

     Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,

     As with your shadow I with these did play.

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Robert Reavis says:

    They were but sweet, but figures of delight,

    Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

    Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,

    As with your shadow I with these did play.

    Dr. Fleming,
    Thank you for the poetry. I would give a finger, perhaps two, to write a couple of lasting lines like those. It is so good, I hate to even mention it and break the silence it inspires. It’s the “Real Absence” in the education of our time.

  2. Avatar Frank Brownlow says:

    The only memorable moment of a movie called The V.I.P.s was Margaret Rutherford, playing a hard-up duchess, and quoting, “Daffadils / that come before the swallow dares, and take / The winds of March with beauty.”

  3. Avatar Robert Reavis says:

    Mr. Peters, from down south, has commented before on this site of his musings in the spring walking or driving by abandoned farmsteads where hardly anything remains but the hardy Daffadils of early Spring. The last lines of Wordsworth’s poem on the other page, brings all of this again to mind. Some say poets are always stealing each other’s lines and subjects. But Frost’s ‘A Tuft of Flowers’ should remind anyone willing to notice that we humans “work together even when we work alone.” Thank you for your poems, Professor Brownlow

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.