the whole spring (english poetry)

Jan Van Huysum, Basket of Flowers with Butterflies 4

Rachel Ruysch, Flower Still Life

I’ve had this conception since my childhood that we all contain some degree of emotional surrealism within us, some inner set of strings that attempts to disorganise our systems back into their sensorial forms, and, to me, such a tugging between inhabiting orders far too complexified to easily seep into us and listening to our disheveled sensorium tingling tunes that seem so distant, they might as well be eldritch, is the tugging responsible for our yearning to create. Nature is a disorderly place, as much as one likes to ascribe to it profound magnitudes of balance, it is still essential chaos, cruel and demanding and smotheringly bounteous in its expressions, and Spring, in my view, expresses it most; it is the period of survival, florescence and restlessness, the period of greatest demand, filled with equal measures of violence and colourful bombast. It displays something that is quintessential in my view: order is madness, an artificial madness with so many curious spectrums; our disconnection with the natural disorder, that primal wound we carry and oft ignore, that distance to our motherhood — albeit perhaps necessary to maintain the structures and systems we’ve built for social survival — is a wound, an abandonment, which seems forever difficult to balm. With this poem, I attempted to replicate just that: both the overwhelming disorder, and the intensely lyrical nature of Spring and our senses therein, and I did so by instrumentalising parts of my emotional surrealism that trail and fall off, ephemeral thoughts and reflections, alliterations and shifts in voice and tone, repetitions, and a good deal of my botanic and vocabular arsenal. Allusions to mythopoetic women of classical culture, through their realms and domains, are also woven carefully into the composition to summon the froth of the feminine spirit of change and emotional maturity, which, in my catalogue of association, coalesces so marvelously with the notion of naturality and the primaveral.

It’s certainly not, at its core, an easily digestible composition; it is very dense in most poetic aspects, like sound and symbol and image, and I’m sadly aware of this element. But, being raised and still continuing to live in such covenant with Nature, I could never peg it for something simple or parsimonious, as many poetic and prosaic expressions have previously. To me, it’s wondrously intricate and limitless, secretive and glorious, painful and healing. It’s nearly everything, and nearly everything can’t truly be simple in my eyes. Despite its dense qualities, I’m still hopeful that a reader will be able to extract meaning out of it.

Also, it might be a bit odd that a composition regarding Spring comes in February, but inflorescence happens a bit earlier in Portugal. We are already enjoying primareval weathers, and the cart of Spring already turns its vine-wheels through these lands.

A thousand blooming thank-you’s for reading.



I lay quiet until I’m called — Helle, earth cannot honour
the last breath you gave. These are the mountains, the filatures,
the mulberries and bromeliads, the frilling paths of dryads;
the hyacinths and snapdragons, the transfigured sirens;
I’d bring myself to the taurobolium—this mere flesh
I’d trade for the squalid, motherless bounty you evaded.

In such resile, in such uncertain cold, earth cannot honour
the zenith of a sacrifice uprooted from the waters, the fans,
the alluvial plains and seif dunes; erosion flows
through holes in ringing rocks,
through holes in ringing hands,
and carries on — saltation, they call it, cymatics,
thus motion infiltrates and adumbrates the soul
which is then to wish a soul it were not,
or was another soul, another not,
notter still than the soul-bearers.

The hurt of each sacrifice is implacable;
an interment by waves—upon waves, a body
buried by thousands of itself, ice-covered rime
showered with hailstones; earth wins, in all
and in ever, it elates in distance, in cold glory,
while it breathes and widens its ringing holes
swallowing the hares darting in its meadows.

Earth, I inch your soul, riveted and brotherless,
I flit in the cusp of you, I, so lissom and evasive,
but I’d whittle a ciborium of the chips of my bones,
and drink the beam-poured blades of your love;
I’d give all that environs me, and the sight of it;
I’d give all that torments me, and the taste of it;
I’d give all which are names lodged in memory;
I’d give the loftiness of these passions, which
are so unglamorously abraded by your apathy;

and for once, to become light, risibly light, a patina of dust
over your ferity, a speck of something impalpable by laws
of geometry. A something vaunted for the indelible excess
of its somethingness; lavish, that somethingness, (quixotic,
even), and all that I’d give, you shall take
and never even inspire to return
any contour of my being.

Dust, my dust,
this earth, this soil,
fetters, flickers,
let the oblation of my fumbled stillness
serve to replace your lie with another.


(and this ground now cradles, what is this?,
my feet grind these shapes, these planes
moulting in their fertile recidivism.)

Far, there’s a flutter in torment. An outside—
where the moon skids away from Daphne
and the spheres find once more a moment sweeter; go,
canary, find a beech just a shade greener; go,
leaf, find dead waters where you may buoy stiller;
I’ll be here, cuneated by seasons
passing through my arms with their obdurating hooks
curved as the whips of bristles flies, bowing
in search of past a bit paster, of air, of a void
that isn’t another serfdom
but a shriek of the voider;
there’s nothing beyond the woods—

there’s nothing beyond the words,
not a thing.

Blind and beyond, the blighted grunt
of a slumbering god
mantled by the cinders
of our inchoate mythologies.


The in-substance.
The fish, its innards, intestines and
sacks of fluid dreaming.

We don’t when we have to;
we can’t when we want to.

We are wired algaes brushing the coast
as the swinging pontoons articulate dreams
that bubble and pair, neutrons and scions…
Such unsettling desires.

No, I can’t recall the morning, my Aurora.
I can’t be roped into whiteness and beige,
into the laurisilvas fiddling with days
and weaving their browning winds
from jimsonweeds and henbanes.

These exorcised enigmas
conjuring begginings with
layers of tremors
that go unsubdued.

yet, hidden parts are simple, here,
they call them cryptomerias,
the twigs of our nesting,
and suddenly
we are changed by the deep secrets of life
and drained by the shallow fens of dying.


(stoke them, away, away. Throw saltpeter
at the Sun, be gone, be gone, obduce
with ash the pits of this ground.)

Clouds abate. Clouds respire. This room was last
and well-through were its shapes studied.
Supple meadows enflamed by their pipits; look, poppies
seem wet rust cast like a pellicle over the sloping hills,

up and no-more, heat-columns loom as upward tides
thronged with fluttering barnacles. Up and no-more.
Up and be no-more.

The heathlands flicker with goat sallows, gentle hollies
and shot godfinches spatter every yellow yarrow,
the balms, reeds and ribworts,
the lichens, nettles and shrubs,
up and gone,
warmth hollows; these furnaces of earth
go up and no-more, stoked
by a tittering under-belt of waters,
A murder with a tremendous view,
and isn’t that what matters?
To go up, and gone,
up, and be no-more.

(And then the waters proceeded, puce-coloured,
into the under where the beyond bloats.
And the woods breathe like sleepy beasts
while the canopy is swept by strong gusts.)

Above dropped, fell, bled, iddled,
atop the anaemias of amaranth and lilac,
a hundred primroses interlinked with boulders
anchoring the natural dogmas—
agonic loves in maddening longitudes
across the cancers on the tips of seeds,
and that agony, pleading with screams
amid the berries of dodders
and rolls of cinnamon, oh,
almost funny how the verdure is
allowed to stick to everything,
and yet our nightly throes, our hopes
always fail to herald Spring,
and our breakable bodies can’t even
auger the bark of the brittlest cherry-trees.

We'll only be allowed to dissolve, quietly,
fall, bleed, iddle out and
mourn, ungreenable,
We'll only be allowed to equilibrate, blur
the conscious and the slumberer,
the mad and the lucid,
what is of nature or affliction,
because it matters not between
threshing corns or naming cruelties;
because we ought to learn only
along the wreckings and marings
of our careless Parithea—
famine, famine of sense or love—
the subtle but potent sounds
we use to name our visions.

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

10 thoughts on “the whole spring (english poetry)

    1. Grazie, John! It’s no problem, I understand that the peculiar nature of the poem makes it quite inaccessible, but when we feel that’s the way it should be, there’s no going around it.
      I’m really elated that you like the prose, though. I’m starting to invest more time in my prosaics, so, it’s a very welcomed feedback!
      Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 3 people

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