On this day in 1445, the first day of Spring, the Florentine painter Alessandro Botticelli was born. Much of his work was done for his patrons, the Medici family, though he also produced work for the Pope’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. Botticelli produced some amazingly lyrical allegorical works such as ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘Primavera’ (Spring) and some delightful portraits.
Later, like many in Florence at the time, he came under the influence of the stern and moralistic friar Savonarola and may have burnt some of his works because they were on pagan themes. Botticelli is said to have harboured an unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci, the model for ‘Venus’, a beautiful married lady who died at the age of 22. He requested to be buried at her feet when he died and this was carried out.
Today’s poem is on the subject of Spring, by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Today I reflect on springtime and the renewal of life that it signifies.