Passionate March winds called in the wild, grey trees this morning.
The frozen brook
Has suddenly become a broad and turbulent stream,
Rushing through the deep ravine,
Swirling about the banks and bending bushes.
Winter is vanquished.
Yet in the harsh, raw air,
In the wet, clinging slime of mud and clay,
And lowering sky and bare, wind-tortured branches,
There lies no beauty or peace.
Peace that has brooded in austere purity
On the white snow-fields sleeping in amber sunshine;
Beauty in magical jade and diamond ice,
Or feathery, silvery powder of new-fallen snow.
But with the rushing of streams and winds there came
Stirring of unborn hopes. . . .
Passion, unrest, yearning, deep discontent,
Something that might become, all suddenly,
Joy. . . .
In an instant passing.
I have felt all day
This sense of questing youth throughout the world.
Before the day had passed,
Waiting in a crowded thoroughfare,
Two Chinamen appeared:
Immobile, passive, enigmatic beings,
Watching the ways of men with the Orient's weird gaze,
Lids dropping low over dim, slanting eyes.
One heavily muffled, seemed to be in pain,
That only his dark, claw-like hands revealed
In a slow writhing, half-hidden in his sleeves.
No other movement in mask-like face or form.
There for an instant I saw old China brooding,
Weighed with the burdens and pains of long, unfathomed, years.
And from those low-caste forms inscrutable,
My thoughts turned to sages, philosophers,
With essence of three religions mingled in their brains.
Calm ivory hands holding vast mystic keys
Weary I climbed the hill and now I sit beside my fire
While darkness gathers in,
Pondering a little while about the world,
The world that suddenly seemed old, dark, worn, this afternoon,
As men and women feel suddenly old sometimes
In an instant's passing.
Joy yields to sorrow.
Passion turns to pain.
But listen – soul of me!
Out in the strange March evening
Passionate winds are calling,
Even louder than they did in the grey morning.
The swollen stream rushes on.
O Youth of Springtime
What passion, hope, freedom, in your untutored song:
The world is young, young, young tonight!~~
What will tomorrow bring?
Louise Morey Bowman (1882-1944)
from Moonlight and Common Day, 1922
[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]
Louise Morey Bowman biography