The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.


My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.


Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.


                          ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Charles Edward Perugini, circa 1888

Charles Edward Perugini, circa 1888


The 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books begins Saturday, April 9, at 10:00 a.m. and continues through Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Southern California.

The Festival is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with hundreds of authors, attend panel discussions with bestselling novelists and industry experts on writing and the publishing business, and enjoy live music, visual art, and cultural entertainment by some of the world’s most creative and celebrated artists.

For a full list of authors and panels featured at this year’s event and to review the program schedule, visit the website at http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks.

See you there!




Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,

The frog scum appear on the pond with the same froth of green,

And boys moon at girls with last year’s fatuous faces,

I never am bored, however familiar the scene.


When from under the barn the cat brings a similar litter,

Two yellow and black, and one that looks in between,

Though it all happened before, I cannot grow bitter:

I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been.


                                                                       ~ Theodore Roethke


"Joys of Spring" by René Lelong, circa 1890 to 1900

“Joys of Spring” by René Lelong, circa 1890 to 1900

Late March

Saturday morning in late March.

I was alone and took a long walk,

though I also carried a book

of the Alone, which companioned me.


The day was clear, unnaturally clear,

like a freshly wiped pane of glass,

a window over the water,

and blue, preternaturally blue,

like the sky in a Magritte painting,

and cold, vividly cold, so that

you could clap your hands and remember

winter, which had left a few moments ago –

if you strained you could almost see it

disappearing over the hills in a black parka.

Spring was coming but hadn’t arrived yet.




I walked down to the pier to watch

the launching of a passenger ship.

Ice had broken up on the river

and the water rippled smoothly in blue light.

The moon was a faint smudge

in the clouds, a brushstroke, an afterthought

in the vacant mind of the sky.




Down at the water, the queenly ship

started moving away from the pier.

Banners fluttered.

The passengers clustered at the rails on deck.

I stood with the people on shore and waved

goodbye to the travelers.

Some were jubilant;

others were broken-hearted.

I have always been both.


Suddenly, a great cry went up.

The ship set sail for the horizon

and rumbled into the future

but the cry persisted

and cut the air

like an iron bell ringing

in an empty church.

I looked around the pier

but everyone else was gone

and I was left alone

to peer into the ghostly distance.

I had no idea where that ship was going

but I felt lucky to see it off

and bereft when it disappeared.


                 ~ Edward Hirsch


"Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee" by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

“Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee” by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

Spring Quiet

Gone were but the Winter,

   Come were but the Spring,

I would go to a covert

   Where the birds sing;


Where in the whitethorn

   Singeth a thrush,

And a robin sings

   In the holly-bush.


Full of fresh scents

   Are the budding boughs

Arching high over

   A cool green house:


Full of sweet scents,

   And whispering air

Which sayeth softly:

   “We spread no snare;


“Here dwell in safety,

   Here dwell alone,

With a clear stream

   And a mossy stone.


“Here the sun shineth

   Most shadily;

Here is heard an echo

   Of the far sea,

   Though far off it be.”


~ Christina Rossetti


"In the Garden" by Sergey Svetoslavsky, 1900s

“In the Garden” by Sergey Svetoslavsky, 1900s

Thin wind winds off the water,

earth lies locked in dead snow,

but sun slants in under the yew hedge,

and the ground there is bare,

with some green blades there,

and my cat knows…


From “Touch of Spring” by John Updike, born on this day in 1932




It is too early for white boughs, too late

For snows.  From out the hedge the wind lets fall

A few last flakes, ragged and delicate.

Down the stripped roads the maples start their small,

Soft, ’wildering fires.  Stained are the meadow stalks

A rich and deepening red.  The willow tree

Is woolly.  In deserted garden-walks

The lean bush crouching hints old royalty,

Feels some June stir in the sharp air and knows

Soon ’twill leap up and show the world a rose.


The days go out with shouting; nights are loud;

Wild, warring shapes the wood lifts in the cold;

The moon’s a sword of keen, barbaric gold,

Plunged to the hilt into a pitch black cloud.


                                               ~ Lizette Woodworth Reese


"Blumenstauden im Wannseegarten" by Max Liebermann, 1919

“Blumenstauden im Wannseegarten” by Max Liebermann, 1919


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