“The First Green of Spring” David Budbill

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Nature, the Present Moment, and Other Gifts to Poets

marsh marigold

We’ve been told more than once that we’re dying. Living, the learn’d astronomer tells us, is nothing but a long and inevitable walk toward our deaths, after all.

Bummer. And do you mind stepping aside, Sir Astronomer, so I can enjoy that starlight, maybe?

Sometimes a poem is a capital-R Romantic chance to strike back at logic and the gloom that leavens it, compliments of the capital-R Realists who take their jobs too seriously. The poet David Budbill took such an opportunity in the following poem.


The First Green of Spring
David Budbill

Out walking in the swamp picking cowslip, marsh marigold,
this sweet first green of spring. Now sautéed in a pan melting
to a deeper green than ever they were alive, this green, this life,

harbinger of things to come. Now we sit at the table munching
on this message from the dawn which says we and the world
are alive again today, and this is the world’s birthday. And

even though we know we are growing old, we are dying, we
will never be young again, we also know we’re still right here
now, today, and, my oh my! don’t these greens taste good.


I’ve always enjoyed Budbill’s poetry, chiefly because he is so attuned to nature. The tide has turned against nature poetry (as my rejection inbox attests), but I still think celebrations of simplicity (or should I say, of complex simplicities) are a key reason for poetry.

In the words of the Buddha, focus on today and the world around you. Tomorrow and the much-ado’s about human interactions will take care of themselves.

If you are interested in reading more about David Budbill’s (1940-2016) work, you can leap down this rabbit hole.