The Poet's Perspective: 'Sadness in Spring' mulls dichotomy, briefly

April 04, 2011

Robin Becker, the 2010-11 Penn State laureate and professor of English and women's studies at the University, is sharing several of her poems via video during the 2010-11 academic year, aiming to engage people "in the deep pleasures of poetry -- language crafted and shaped from words, the 'ordinary' material we all use every day," to explore how and why poems move us.

"The Poet's Perspective" is a weekly poetry video series scheduled to appear during the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters on Penn State Live and in Penn State Newswires. Prior to each poem, Becker offers her thoughts about what inspired her to write the piece, then poses a question to consider. Below and in the video link of "Sadness in Spring," Becker ponders the condition of melancholy during the season of renewal.

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In 10 lines, I evoke the acute dislocation we feel when our personal griefs confront spring's generativity.

Question to consider: Why might spring, of all the seasons, present special difficulties?

Sadness in Spring

Today I thought about how everyone I know
is sad, how amazing that the forests and deserts
and plains can hold us as we get up and walk
from one season to the next.
In spring all sadness is
wet and branching, sucking at shoes,
and the anniversaries of deaths
are like tiny tombstones on the trails.
Summer is still so far away, not like our dead who stand
in the woods all night, a few feet from the house.

"Sadness in Spring" is from Giacometti's Dog, by Robin Becker, © 1990. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the publisher.

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View Robin Becker's schedule of appearances at online. To read or watch videos of previous poems in the series, click here. To listen to an occasional podcast series where Becker and a small group of students and faculty discuss one of her poems, visit "Liberal Arts Voices."


  • To watch a video of Robin Becker reading 'Sadness in Spring,' click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated April 10, 2011