<p>Do you have a favorite spring poem? If so, share it in the comments <a href="https://www.monroecc.edu/blogs/wp-login.php?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monroecc.edu%2Fblogs%2F">on the blog</a>.</p>
<p>The Late Wisconsin Spring</p>
<p>John Koethe</p>
<p></p>
<p>Snow melts into the earth and a gentle breeze</p>
<p>Loosens the damp gum wrappers, the stale leaves</p>
<p>Left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass.</p>
<p>The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds</p>
<p>Winter put away somewhere return, the air relaxes,</p>
<p>People start to circulate again in twos and threes.</p>
<p>The dominant feelings are the blue sky, and the year.</p>
<p>--Memories of other seasons and the billowing wind;</p>
<p>The light gradually altering from difficult to clear</p>
<p>As a page melts and a photograph develops in the backyard.</p>
<p>When some men came to tear down the garage across the way</p>
<p>The light was still clear, but the salt intoxication</p>
<p>Was already dissipating into the atmosphere of constant day</p>
<p>April brings, between the isolation and the flowers.</p>
<p>Now the clouds are lighter, the branches are frosted green,</p>
<p>And suddenly the season that had seemed so tentative before</p>
<p>Becomes immediate, so clear the heart breaks and the vibrant</p>
<p>Air is laced with crystal wires leading back from hell.</p>
<p>Only the distraction, and the exaggerated sense of care</p>
<p>Here at the heart of spring--all year long these feelings</p>
<p>Alternately wither and bloom, while a dense abstraction</p>
<p>Hides them. But now the mental dance of solitude resumes,</p>
<p>And life seems smaller, placed against the background</p>
<p>Of this story with the empty, moral quality of an expansive</p>
<p>Gesture made up out of trees and clouds and air.</p>
<p></p>
<p>The loneliness comes and goes, but the blue holds,</p>
<p>Permeating the early leaves that flutter in the sunlight</p>
<p>As the air dances up and down the street. Some kids yell.</p>
<p>A white dog rolls over on the grass and barks once. And</p>
<p>Although the incidents vary and the principal figures change,</p>
<p>Once established, the essential tone and character of a season</p>
<p>Stays inwardly the same day after day, like a person's.</p>
<p>The clouds are frantic. Shadows sweep across the lawn</p>
<p>And up the side of the house. A dappled sky, a mild blue</p>
<p>Watercolor light that floats the tense particulars away</p>
<p>As the distraction starts. Spring here is at first so wary,</p>
<p>And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,</p>
<p>Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,</p>
<p>And then subsiding. But the season intensifies by degrees,</p>
<p>Imperceptibly, while the colors deepen out of memory,</p>
<p>The flowers bloom and the thick leaves gleam in the sunlight</p>
<p>Of another city, in a past which has almost faded into heaven.</p>
<p>And even though memory always gives back so much more of</p>
<p>What was there than the mind initially thought it could hold,</p>
<p>Where will the separation and the ache between the isolated</p>
<p>Moments go when summer comes and turns this all into a garden?</p>
<p>Spring here is too subdued: the air is clear with anticipation,</p>
<p>But its real strength lies in the quiet tension of isolation</p>
<p>And living patiently, without atonement or regret,</p>
<p>In the eternity of the plain moments, the nest of care</p>
<p>--Until suddenly, all alone, the mind is lifted upward into</p>
<p>Light and air and the nothingness of the sky,</p>
<p>Held there in that vacant, circumstantial blue until,</p>
<p>In the vehemence of a landscape where all the colors disappear,</p>
<p>The quiet absolution of the spirit quickens into fact,</p>
<p>And then, into death. But the wind is cool.</p>
<p>The buds are starting to open on the trees.</p>
<p>Somewhere up in the sky an airplane drones.</p>
<p></p>
<p></p>

MCC Daily Tribune

President's Wednesday Message

I grew up in in a very small, working class suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so to celebrate both spring and National Poetry Month (April), it seemed fitting to share a poem by former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Distinguished Professor of Philosophy John Koethe: "The Late Wisconsin Spring." The images Koethe conjures will be as familiar to Rochesterians as they are to Milwaukeeans: the reassuring, constant blue of the sky and frosting of green that coaxes the wary and subdued spring out of memory and into a colorful and gleaming reality. Koethe's descriptions of the slow seasonal shift out of Northern winters seems to me to perfectly capture this time of year, a clarity of light washing over still bare vistas that leaves room for reflection and renewal. I hope you enjoy the poem.

Do you have a favorite spring poem? If so, share it in the comments on the blog.

The Late Wisconsin Spring

John Koethe

Snow melts into the earth and a gentle breeze

Loosens the damp gum wrappers, the stale leaves

Left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass.

The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds

Winter put away somewhere return, the air relaxes,

People start to circulate again in twos and threes.

The dominant feelings are the blue sky, and the year.

--Memories of other seasons and the billowing wind;

The light gradually altering from difficult to clear

As a page melts and a photograph develops in the backyard.

When some men came to tear down the garage across the way

The light was still clear, but the salt intoxication

Was already dissipating into the atmosphere of constant day

April brings, between the isolation and the flowers.

Now the clouds are lighter, the branches are frosted green,

And suddenly the season that had seemed so tentative before

Becomes immediate, so clear the heart breaks and the vibrant

Air is laced with crystal wires leading back from hell.

Only the distraction, and the exaggerated sense of care

Here at the heart of spring--all year long these feelings

Alternately wither and bloom, while a dense abstraction

Hides them. But now the mental dance of solitude resumes,

And life seems smaller, placed against the background

Of this story with the empty, moral quality of an expansive

Gesture made up out of trees and clouds and air.

The loneliness comes and goes, but the blue holds,

Permeating the early leaves that flutter in the sunlight

As the air dances up and down the street. Some kids yell.

A white dog rolls over on the grass and barks once. And

Although the incidents vary and the principal figures change,

Once established, the essential tone and character of a season

Stays inwardly the same day after day, like a person's.

The clouds are frantic. Shadows sweep across the lawn

And up the side of the house. A dappled sky, a mild blue

Watercolor light that floats the tense particulars away

As the distraction starts. Spring here is at first so wary,

And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,

Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,

And then subsiding. But the season intensifies by degrees,

Imperceptibly, while the colors deepen out of memory,

The flowers bloom and the thick leaves gleam in the sunlight

Of another city, in a past which has almost faded into heaven.

And even though memory always gives back so much more of

What was there than the mind initially thought it could hold,

Where will the separation and the ache between the isolated

Moments go when summer comes and turns this all into a garden?

Spring here is too subdued: the air is clear with anticipation,

But its real strength lies in the quiet tension of isolation

And living patiently, without atonement or regret,

In the eternity of the plain moments, the nest of care

--Until suddenly, all alone, the mind is lifted upward into

Light and air and the nothingness of the sky,

Held there in that vacant, circumstantial blue until,

In the vehemence of a landscape where all the colors disappear,

The quiet absolution of the spirit quickens into fact,

And then, into death. But the wind is cool.

The buds are starting to open on the trees.

Somewhere up in the sky an airplane drones.

Kress, Anne
President's Office
04/04/2018