vernal equinox

by Hazel Crawley

Image: The Cultural Landscape Foundation

I do not think this love will last till Spring,
It was in wombs and tombs and cellars carved
And trained, like Ivy, on dank walls to cling,
Lacing two souls that had been too long starved.
Excluding air and sun and wind and rain,
Bent on destroying someone’s muttered curse,
We tightly plaited dammed-up dreams with pain
And now the ebb-tide wills us wounds to nurse.
The year’s first crocus will be our death knell;
The song of the first robin will incite
The thawing, waxing, sunlight to repel
A love that cannot turn away from night.

Poet and playwright Hazel Crawley was born in Newark and served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. These lines are from her 1975 collection Erratica.

april twilight

by Louis Ginsberg

So beautiful it is, this April dusk,
        This quiet twilight after wistful rain,
That everything is breathless, lest it stir
        The mystery that haunts this meadow lane.

A hush is clinging to the hallowed air.
        I hear the murmur of the looms of Spring.
I see the testament of leaf and grass;
        And glory lurk in every simple thing!

Until I think, within this wistful dusk,
        Within this miracle of bud and tree,
Heaven must be a land of haunted lanes,
        Where April blossoms out eternally!

Image: Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger
Image: Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger

Born and raised in Newark, Louis Ginsberg (1895-1976) became one of the most widely read American poets of the twentieth century.  In his later years Ginsberg’s verse found new audiences through public readings with his son, the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

“April Twilight” appeared in The Attic of the Past and other lyrics (1920).

a spring song

by Lyman Whitney Allen

Is it wrong for the thrush to sing?
        Can the crocus keep back its bloom?
And shall not a soul that feels the Spring
        Break forth from its house of gloom?

O passionate heart, be strong!
        Thou wert made, like the birds and the flowers,
For music and fragrance the whole day long
        In the April light and showers.

To every one it is given
        To love, and to hope, and to do;
There’s never a power on the earth or in Heaven
        Can throttle a soul that is true.

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Image: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger

Lyman Whitney Allen was pastor of South Park Presbyterian Church for 27 years.  Author of Newark’s official celebration ode for the 1916 commemorations, he withdrew from full-time ministry later that year to devote himself to literature. “A Spring Song” was printed in The Newarker of April 1916 and in The Newark Anniversary Poems.

on spring

Image: Yong Hee Kim via The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Image: Yong Hee Kim via The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Hail welcome Spring, with all thy train,
Return and cheer our earth again;
And bid thy warmer gales to blow,
And thy refreshing show’rs to flow.
A short time since, a few weeks past,
Our streets were pav’d with icy glass,
And howling winds were hurl’d around,
With storm and rain we heard the sound;
All nature mourn’d her torpid state,
Enfetter’d by the hand of fate;
A dreary waste o’er cast with gloom,
Beset with tempest, rain and storm;
No ray of pleasure beam’d along,
No bleating flocks nor warbler’s song,
To soothe the rigour of the skies,
Or cause the peasant’s hope to rise.
But now rejoice, the scene is chang’d,
The warmer rays do shine again;
And lambs do bleat, while birds they sing,
All echo praise to welcome Spring
The neighing horse and lowing herd,
With eager steps bound to the mead;
Where Nature’s luxuries unfold,
Their stores of fatness for the world.
While sportive play their joys enhance,
They taste the rich luxuriance;
Forget the scanty winter store,
For plenty spreads the valley o’er.

This ode, signed simply “A., Newark, March 1801,” appeared in the Newark newspaper The Centinel of Freedom on the 31st of that month.