Sorting by

Skip to main content

Spring and All

We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in West Michigan–and that’s not simply because of the Festival of Faith and Writing! No, the weather–in contrast to the snow we’d had only a little while before–shouted “spring” at every turn.

In literature, spring is supposed to be all new life and bounding baby animals. But of course, the best poets complicate that notion.  T.S. Eliot with his “cruelest month” of April, for example. And as I’ve been planning for next term (in their great wisdom, Congress has decided that professors need to order textbooks incredibly early) and the class I’m going to teach in the British Romantics, I was reminded of William Wordsworth’s thoughtful “Lines Written in Early Spring.” If we can overlook his use of “man” for “humanity,” we find a poem that encourages us to weigh the joy of spring–particularly the pleasures of God’s good creation–against our own actions and the “grie[f]” that brings. Perhaps worth a read this morning.


Lines Written in Early Spring

By William Wordsworth
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sat reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Jennifer L. Holberg

I am professor and chair of the Calvin University English department, where I have taught a range of courses in literature and composition since 1998. An Army brat, I have come to love my adopted hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m also the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture. My book, Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith, was published in July 2023 by Intervarsity Press.

Leave a Reply