The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
- Philip Larkin
Today I have a much deeper appreciation for this poem. I ventured out of the house for a walk in the woods. I even borrowed the family dog, Shady. It was lush and full of life and I felt as if I was encountering this landscape for the first time, in all its verdant splendour. Of course, Larkin’s poem is about nature and renewal but there’s a keen awareness of mortality that makes it all the more poignant right now. The proximity of death has made me acutely aware of the life that continues without human interference. How the leaves grow, the varying shades of colour in the moss, how log stumps can spring back into life.
The trees are as mortal as we are but each year they recover from a harsh winter and are ‘born again’. I don’t know how the world will recover from this virus or whether we will all just be expected to carry on as we did before, being so disconnected from nature.
I only know that today, I went out and it was beautiful.