Apr. 9, 2005

The First Green of Spring

by David Budbill

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Poem: "The First Green of Spring," by David Budbill from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse (Copper Canyon Press).

The First Green of Spring

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.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day in 1940, in the early morning hours, Hitler's troops invaded Norway and Denmark. The invasion involved almost the entire German navy, six army divisions and a sizable air contingent. By the end of the day, German forces controlled most of the strategic positions in both countries. Copenhagen fell in 12 hours. Much of Norway also fell, except for the northern part of Norway, the Narvik region, where a severe winter had left piles of snow on the ground. The Nazis were engaged in heavy fighting there for several months. Norway's King Haakon the Seventh and his family had fled Oslo by train shortly after the start of the invasion, and they stayed out of the country until the last Allied troops withdrew in June. He was forced to make a narrow escape aboard the British cruiser HMS Devonshire to London, where he led a Norwegian government in exile from London for five years.

It's the birthday of songwriter and satirist Tom Lehrer, born in New York City (1928). He wrote many, many songs, including "The Old Dope Peddler," "The Vatican Rag," "We Will All Go Together When We Go," and, of course, "We're Having Hanukah in Santa Monica."

It's the birthday of J.William Fulbright, born in Sumner, Missouri (1905). A U.S. Senator from Arkansas, he gave his name to the Fulbright Scholarships, which provide for the exchange of students and teachers between the United States and other countries.

On this day in 1865, on a Palm Sunday, the American Civil War officially ended. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at a farmhouse in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The following day, General Lee issued his last order to his men, in which he said: "I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them. But valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss [of more men]. I bid you all an affectionate farewell."

It's the birthday of Eadweard Muybridge, born in Kingston-on-the-Thames, England (1830). An early photographer, it was he who took the series of photographs that show that when a horse trots, all four hooves leave the ground for just an instant.

It's the birthday of French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire, born to a wealthy family in Paris (1821). At 36, he published his only collection of poetry, Les Fleurs de Mal (1857, The Flowers of Evil).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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