Shelley: If Winter Comes?

Primavera arrived this week with her sun-golden hair, azure eyes, and fragrance of flowering cherries. She lit my heart.

Today, however, she has withdrawn, hiding her countenance behind the overcast sky, shedding cold rain-tears, and silencing her voice of robin-songs as the wind howls the tale of enduring winter.

I took a walk in the rain and wind anyway, to meet old-man Winter face to face in my Brooklyn streets.

But now I have returned home to be with the poetic friends who have been visiting me again, after so many years. William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats have been with me since Maya walked towards the light, three weeks ago.

I thought I’d read Keats this afternoon. But as I opened my anthology, a jinni spoke softly in my ear and summoned me to Shelley instead. It had been years since I’d read his Ode to the West Wind — so many years, actually, that I did not remember why exactly I loved the poem so much when I first read it while in Florence, Italy, in the chill of a late autumn.

As I read Shelley’s ode today, my heart-minded body began to remember why. And as I came to the closing verses in this wintry Saturday in early spring, I discovered with commotion that the jinni was right to summon me to read my old-friend Shelley’s poem. It soothed my being, heartening me to persevere in my friendship with Winter, while Primavera returns.

[West Wind, Wild Spirit:]

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

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