Do you know why Easter is celebrated on different dates, dependent on the year? Maybe you do but I don’t. Or didn’t, until I heard an item on the radio this morning: it had something to do with a royal couple, where the king was ending his Lenten fast and celebrating Easter on a different date from his queen. Other sources say it has to do with the first Sunday after the new full moon.
Maybe a few centuries from now, people will scratch their heads over why the UK insisted on dragging not just England but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland into the brave new era of economically crippled freedom. Or maybe it won’t really feature in history, because by then the two puny island off the coast of Europe will have been totally submerged, thanks to the greed of the oil barons and the fearfulness of politicians without a backbone.
But we are where we are. Easter Sunday. There’s a bright haze outside, you can hear birds singing in counterpoint, the dew still hasn’t lifted off the grass, and I’m aware to my bones of the privilege it is to be alive. At moments like these, prose is a clumsy instrument, like trying to butter bread while wearing boxing gloves.
So here’s a poem. Some poems you like, some you love. I truly love this one, which is why I email it to my four ex-children each year at this time. It’s by the (very) English poet Philip Larkin. And no – the fact that he was a bit of a shit doesn’t detract from the poem by so much as a smidgin. Bain sult as – Enjoy.
The trees are
coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.