Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Night Wind in Spring

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

The late Elizabeth Coatsworth was a member of a Maine literary family that included her late husband, Henry Beston, and also includes her daughter, Kate Barnes, a former state poet laureate who lives in Appleton. In this week’s poem, Coatsworth describes the tentative beginning of a Maine spring.

Night Wind in Spring by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Two yellow dandelion shields do not make spring,
nor do the wild duck swimming by the shore,
so self-possessed, so white of side and breast,
nor, I suppose, the change in the land-birds’ calls,
softened and sweetened to a courting note,
nor the new colors twigs are taking on,
not even the sun which rises early now
and lingers almost until dinner time.
We, too, are valid instruments; we, too, can say
if this be spring or only waning winter.
Tonight the wind is loud about our chimney.
There is no new moon in the sky, nothing but stars:
the Dipper upright on its shining handle,
Sirius bright above a neighbor’s house,
and this wind roaming, not enough to scrape
a branch along the roof, or try the shutters
for one to bang. No, just enough to cry
and cry and cry against the stalwart chimney,
as though it were a wanderer who had come 
down half the world to find one only door
and that door locked and nothing answering.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1968 by Elizabeth Coatsworth. Reprinted from Down Half the World, by permission of Kate Barnes. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.