Winifred Mary Letts

Spring the Cheat

Today is the birthday of the English writer Winifred Mary Letts. Gardeners love her quote on spring:
That God once loved a garden, we learn in Holy writ. 
And seeing gardens in the Spring, I well can credit it.
Winifred also wrote a poem about spring called "Spring the Cheat." This is one of many poems Winifred wrote about the Great War - WWI. Winifred wrote "Spring the Cheat" to remind people that they were not alone in their suffering. Her poem illustrates how pointless existence seems during wartime. Winifred contrasts the season of rebirth - spring (which is cyclical), with a war-induced season of loss (which usually spreads across many seasons and is especially at odds during spring).

Spring the Cheat
The wych-elm shakes its sequins to the ground,
With every wind, the chestnut blossoms fall:
Down by the stream the willow-warblers sing,
And in the garden to a merry sound 
The mown grass flies. The fantail pigeons call
And sidle on the roof; a murmuring 
Of bees about the woodbine-covered wall,
A child's sweet chime of laughter — this is spring.
Luminous evenings when the blackbird sways
Upon the rose and tunes his flageolet,
A sea of bluebells down the woodland ways, —
O exquisite spring, all this — and yet — and yet —
Kinder to me the bleak face of December
Who gives no cheating hopes, but says — "Remember."

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Winifred Mary Letts
Winifred Mary Letts

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