April 17, 2011

Ode to Spring!

My Ship Sailing Into the Spring Sun

Spring has finally arrived in Norway - the mornings and evenings are getting lighter and lighter and I am woken by birds in the morning. The winter has been very long this year. When I sail around the peninsula where I have my cabin, I see so many people have recently felled trees on their properties. It seems almost like an attack of craziness - the only thought in their head is now sun, sun, sun.

Norway is a bi-polar nation. As one of my professors at the Norwegian Pirate University told the international pirates when they arrived in this strange country: There is one thing you should know about Norwegians. In the winter time they exist; in the summer time they live. Yes, it is true, dear reader. In the summer time you can find Norwegians who actually talk without having drunk alcohol. In the summer time you will even hear Norwegians laugh and see them smile. So for those of you who have never been here to this land of the midnight sun, you know when to come.

A photophobic pirate armed for the sun
Actually I am no fan of spring. Maybe it is because I don't like the color yellow (although this yellow post by Shanthi bent my feelings a bit towards positive). But it is also the exploding light that accompanies spring. I am photophobic - so I love the dark. In addition to my pirate self, I have a vampire character.  I have eyes that easily hyperdilate - my blue eyes transform into black in the dark. This means my night vision is excellent, so I am always the helmsman at night.

Yesterday I made a mistake. I was landlocked and spent four hours walking in the sun. Although I was heavily armed with sunglasses, I could feel fatigue getting the better part of me. Finally only the worst part of me was left and I returned exhausted to the ship. I was so done in that I could hardly crack a joke or lift my bottle. I vowed to myself not to repeat that mistake again. I decided to crawl into bed and contemplate my agitation towards the sun and spring.

Spring, I thought to myself, is so self-oriented - so cocky. Why couldn't spring be more mellow, less painfully exuberant? Even though I was tired I felt an urge to write a poem about the madness of spring - but my oomph only lasted for a haiku:

The boisterous sun came raging
The calm winter faded shyly
My blue feelings jumping

No, I was not satisfied. I could not sleep until I had captured my agitation. I got out of bed and paced by my bookshelf, letting my fingers spider along the leathery backs. I knew there was a poem lurking somewhere in my youth. Finally I found what I was looking for. A poem by Karin Boye called Yes, of course it hurts. So without further ado - here it is (for the original, Swedish version, click here): 

A Himalayan Poppy bud about to break

Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.

Yes, it is hard when drops are falling.
Trembling with fear, and heavy hanging,
cleaving to the twig, and swelling, sliding -
weight draws them down, though they go on clinging.
Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
hard to feel the depths attract and call,
yet sit fast and merely tremble -
hard to want to stay
and want to fall.

Then, when things are worst and nothing helps
the tree's buds break as in rejoicing,
then, when no fear holds back any longer,
down in glitter go the twig's drops plunging,
forget that they were frightened by the new,
forget their fear before the flight unfurled -
feel for a second their greatest safety,
rest in that trust
that creates the world.

          -Karin Boye, 1935

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