The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Hounds of Spring

4:49 PM PDT, March 24, 2009

It never lasts long, this sweet first flowering time. Two days ago the redbud and crabapple trees around the deck were just beginning to bloom; now they’re at their height. From my window I can see their delicate hues, purple and rose, demurely defiant amid the gaunt trunks and branches of oaks and maples still leafless. The daffodils flaunted in their golden hosts weeks ago, and are now shriveling on their stalks. So temporary, and for that very reason so beloved, this fragile, fitful interval.

I can well understand why medieval people always went wild when Spring finally arrived. Even with my modern comforts, winter is a grim and shivering eternity that gets more arduous with each passing year, and this particular year was a bad 'un. My left tympanic cavity is still clogged from the crud that began afflicting me around Thanksgiving, and is only now making an all too leisurely retreat from my mortal clay. To finally feel warm, really and truly warm, is wondrous.

So with my one good ear, my two bad eyes and my cough-rough voice I’ve been reveling in Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana, singing along to the irresistibly upbeat ‘Tempus Est Iocundum.’ Orff’s mainly known for another song in the cycle, ‘O Fortuna,’ but its grim staccato howl that made perfect background music for the last several months has been bumped from my player, replaced by the pagan glee of youths and maidens giddy with the joy of shrugging off heavy itchy rank infested wool breeks and coathardies and frolicking about bare-limbed on the greensward.

Oh, oh, oh!
Totus floreo!

Texts and translations of the Carmina Burana can be found at

Swinburne's breathtaking poem about spring's hounds is here:


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