Thursday, April 23, 2015



Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948), "Instead of a Spring Song," Occasions (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922), pp. 130-137 (at 130):
Sometimes the happiest of us feel that life is of little value in this workaday world. The sun shines, and we go on working; winds shout, birds sing; memories of coloured cities in brighter climates invite us, and the rolling, bare-backed downs beckon—but all for nothing; we go on working. We go on working, most of us, merely for daily bread, and the remainder from habit, from ineptitude, or—to encourage the others. But we have to nudge each other to remind ourselves that we like it, for all that; and when the springfret comes we know we don't!
Id. (at 131-132):
It is the invitation of the sun, it is the whisper of the wild, bidding you lay down your tools and your nets and follow, follow, you know not whither, for man knows not what is good or bad for him. You only know that when the white door becomes opalescent, and the hawthorn buds green fire, you suffer a kind of nausea in the face of all humdrum things and long to have done with them, to break free, to run wild for a time. And why should you not? For you do not; you simply fight it down, like the good sensible fellow you are. You fight it down and plunge into the brown air of commerce again, until next year. It is always next year, "always jam to-morrow," as Alice said, "but never jam to-day," and when the same old spur to rebellion comes at you again—once more you force it from you, for next year, like to-morrow, never comes. But the day will come when the light will shine full on common things, giving them distinction, and you will see it not. In that hour the springfret will pass you by. "The grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail..." You may look through your office window at the blue sky interlaced with telephone cables, and yearn for Saskatchewan, or shake your fist at the engine on Ludgate Bridge, protesting your determination to fly to the South Seas. You will be too old.

That is life's tragedy—to find suddenly that you are too old; to find that you no longer desire to play truant, that you are become a mere Mantalini doomed to know only that "life is nothing but one demnition grind," even when the spring comes in, and the sun wakes up, and the Strand and Cheapside become temples of light; to find that you are good for nothing but to stay at home and be good.

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