Anyone who knows me, knows that my received my Masters degree in English literature, specializing in the literature of the nineteenth century. I love my Romantic poets—Keats, Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Brontes. . . . . The more Gothic, the better!
When I am walking and looking for images to receive in my camera, I tend to think in terms of poetry, especially metaphor and symbolism, mood, setting. Those elements speak to me somehow, and at times, I do think that photography is, as Chris Orwig says, “visual poetry.”
This winter has been gloomy—cloudy, rainy, wet. More often than not, I’ve been kept indoors by the rain than by the cold. In terms of temperature, it’s been a mild winter. Just WET!
But lately, I’m seeing signs of spring. I went for a walk through Dreher Island State Park yesterday as well as through my backyard. Shelley had it right. When there is winter, spring is not far behind.
Here is Shelley’s complete poem:
Ode to the West Wind
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792 – 1822
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours plain and hill: Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!
Thou on whose stream, ‘mid the steep sky’s commotion, Loose clouds like Earth’s decaying leaves are shed, Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean, Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread On the blue surface of thine airy surge, Like the bright hair uplifted from the head Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge Of the horizon to the zenith’s height, The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge Of the dying year, to which this closing night Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre Vaulted with all thy congregated might Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams, Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay, And saw in sleep old palaces and towers Quivering within the wave’s intenser day, All overgrown with azure moss and flowers So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear The sapless foliage of the ocean, know Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear, And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share The impulse of thy strength, only less free Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even I were as in my boyhood, and could be The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven, As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne’er have striven As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakened Earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
This poem is in the public domain.