What The Bird Said Early in the Year

Addison's Walk photo by wikipedia
June. 2001 B, Mum & I were sauntering, dream-like through Magdalen College, Oxford. We found Addison's Walk, (named for Joseph Addison, 17 century statesmen and author of, among other things, one of my favorite hymns.) As we were ambling (hard to do little else on such a day, and in such a place), we came upon a little bridge going over the River Cherwell, which ran alongside the Walk. Across it, a view through a gate into Magdalen's Deer Park. And there, mounted beside the gate, a huge plaque. As I bent near to read it, I realized I was reading a poem by C.S. Lewis that was so stupendously wonderful, I was stunned into silence. Here is a poem that is fraught with Lewisian Joy, the joy that is so acute it is tinged with sadness, even as it speaks of hope; because it reminds us that we call another place home.

What The Bird Said Early In The Year

I heard in Addison's Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true, this year, this year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time's nature will no more defeat you
Nor all their moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older by the well-worn track.

This year, this year, as these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! The gates are drawn apart.
C.S. Lewis


Anonymous said...

Dear Rosa-
Wonderful! Last week I was with a group of friends and we were discussing places where we especially felt the presence of God and I shared about our trip to Oxford and Addison's Walk. It is possibly one of the most magical, mystical places I have ever experienced. I felt God was asking me to take it all in and when I tried, it felt like I wasn't even getting it by half. I am torn between wanting to return and see it again and the fear that it will have all changed and be different than I remember.
Thank you, Col and especially thank you for the picture.

Rosa said...

I can't take photo credit for that one, Mum!
I say we should face our fears and go back. We WILL find it different & changed, and more like 'real ordinary life' than we remembered & hoped, but only because everywhere is real, ordinary life this side of heaven.
Besides, we HAVE to take G back to meet the cat of Catbrain Hill!! (:

Anonymous said...

Oh well, if I must return..........count me in!! How could I deny my G.child the thrill (??) of the cat of Catbrain Hill. Sounds like a childrens book in the making-maybe MSH could illustrate. (a mother can dream, can't she?)
XO, Mum

Anonymous said...

My Joan and myself visited Oxford earlier this week. Strolling down Addison's Walk in its beautiful autumn clothes we read the beautiful, perplexing poem - 'What The Bird Said Earlier in the Year'. On returning to Ireland we googled the words on the internet and came across your blog with a number of little treasures. Thank you. Beir beannacht, Mícheál and Siobhán de Barra

rosa said...

thanks for visiting! Wish I had some native Californian to leave you with! Surf's up, dude!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.