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Featured Poem: I So Liked The Spring by Charlotte Mew

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 8th April 2019

The Reader's Learning and Quality Coordinator, Lisa Spurgin, shares her thoughts on this week's Featured Poem, I So Liked The Spring by Charlotte Mew.

Next to Autumn, Spring is my favourite season – Winter can often seem endless and so it always feels like a second beginning to the year when buds come onto the trees, the sun shines more, the weather gets warmer and there is a general uplifting, hopeful feeling in the air. My own personal fondness for the springtime is what attracted me to this poem – ‘who could fail to like the Spring?’, I thought to myself on considering the title. Getting into the poem itself brought something of a surprise. On my first reading I was struck by a melancholy feeling that I wasn’t expecting, but going back for another reading, and then another, the mood changed as I gave the poem time to settle.

Those first two lines pack a big emotional punch:

I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here:-

The ‘so’ contributes to that emphatic feeling, but it’s the ‘you’ that really hits the heart. It’s perfectly natural for us as humans with sentimental hearts and an instinctual urge to be constantly making connections and meaning to tie our own personal experience of a season, a place, an object to another person. Things we might not be that fond of can be changed dramatically because someone we love has an affection for them. Perhaps the speaker liked Spring as well as the thrushes beforehand, but their intense liking for the other person has transformed that feeling into something more. It’s a strange phenomenon to think about, in some respects, but one which we can’t avoid as human beings who are designed to connect to others and seek to see the world through another’s eyes.

It’s hard not to think about where this other person has gone to, but their leaving has had an effect, just as their presence had too.

This year’s a different thing,-
I’ll not think of you.

To me, it almost feels like a conscious decision not to think of someone who had meant a lot to you, especially in this case as it has only been a year, or even less, since they had gone away.  Maybe this is because it would be too hard, too sad, bring back too many painful memories that are not only related to the Spring. That ‘I’ll not’ seems to mean something definite rather than being a casual, passing choice, where the speaker might change their mind the next day or week. What do you make of it?

At first those aforementioned lines left me feeling sad – although reading them again I find different nuances of meaning – but the two final lines provide a certain uplift. The reappearance of the thrushes come as a reminder of happier times and an endurance of the spirit to survive. At the moment it may be that the speaker is going through the motions, somewhat, but perhaps as the years go by, Spring keeps arriving and the thrushes continue to sing their song a deeper joy will be found once more. I definitely find comfort in the cyclical pattern of the seasons and so am inclined to look hopefully at the end of this poem. Perhaps you’ll think differently.

I So Liked The Spring

I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here;-
The thrushes too-
Because it was these you so liked to hear-
I so liked you.

This year’s a different thing,-
I’ll not think of you.
But I’ll like Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.

by Charlotte Mew

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