A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Let us remember Spring will come again
To the scorched, blackened woods, where the wounded trees
Wait with their old wise patience for the heavenly rain,
Sure of the sky: sure of the sea to send its healing breeze,
Sure of the sun, and even as to these
Surely the Spring, when God shall please,
Will come again like a divine surprise
To those who sit today with their great Dead, hands in their hands
Eyes in their eyes
At one with Love, at one with Grief: blind to the scattered things
And changing skies.
Charlotte Mary Mew was born in London on November 15, 1869. Her productive years as a poet straddled the Victorian and Modern eras, and her later, more modernist work (of which this poem is a good example) was praised by Ezra Pound, Siegfried Sassoon, Vita Sackville West, Thomas Hardy, and Virginia Woolf. Through most of her adult life, Mew wore masculine attire and kept her hair short, adopting the appearance of a dandy. Haunted by unrequited passion and tormented with fear of madness, Mew lived her life in poverty and despair, taking her own life on March 24, 1928. After Mew’s death, her friend Alida Monro collected and edited Mew’s poetry for publication. The Rambling Sailor appeared in 1929 and brings together her early work with her more mature and successful poetry from the teens and twenties.
The triggering event for Mew’s poem may have been her reading an account of the widening of the war: Having declared a policy of neutrality in 1914, the Italian government was persuaded to enter the conflict on the side of the Allies on May 23, 1915.