20 February 2008

Orange-planets: crimson I

We're still enjoying our sack of magnificent Binche blood oranges. Here are a few just after I opened them up, juicy in the sun. They taste as good as they look.

The poem that follows seemed almost too perfect when I read it. My namesake bird, the winter weather, the gold-red oranges. It sounds about right to combat "wild winter's spite" with "sunlight, song, and the orange-tree." And I love the swinging rhythm of it.

I knew nothing about Sidney Lanier until yesterday, so if you find yourself in the same situation, you can read about him here (I knew there was something Hopkins-esque about this) or, for some more extensive reading, here. (One of Lanier's letters ends with one of the best send-offs I've ever seen: "May God send you a soul full of colossal and simple chords.")

Tampa Robins

The robin laughed in the orange-tree:
"Ho, windy North, a fig for thee:
While breasts are red and wings are bold
And green trees wave us globes of gold,
Time's scythe shall reap but bliss for me
-- Sunlight, song, and the orange-tree.

Burn, golden globes in leafy sky,
My orange-planets: crimson I
Will shine and shoot among the spheres
(Blithe meteor that no mortal fears)
And thrid the heavenly orange-tree
With orbits bright of minstrelsy.

If that I hate wild winter's spite --
The gibbet trees, the world in white,
The sky but gray wind over a grave --
Why should I ache, the season's slave?
I'll sing from the top of the orange-tree
'Gramercy, winter's tyranny.'

I'll south with the sun, and keep my clime;
My wing is king of the summer-time;
My breast to the sun his torch shall hold;
And I'll call down through the green and gold
'Time, take thy scythe, reap bliss for me,
Bestir thee under the orange-tree.'"

Sidney Lanier
Tampa, Florida, 1877

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