When your birthday brings the world under your window
And the song-thrush sings wet-throated in the dew
And aconite and primrose are unsticking the wrappers
Of the package that has come today for you

Lambs bounce out and stand astonished
Puss willow pushes among bare branches
Sooty hawthorns shiver into emerald

And a new air
Nuzzles the sugary
Buds of the chestnut. A groundswell and a stir
Billows the silvered
Violet silks
Of the south - a tenderness
Lifting through all the
Gently-breasted
Counties of England.

When the swallow snips the string that holds the world in
And the ring-dove claps and nearly loops the loop
You just can’t count everything that follows in a tumble
Like a whole circus tumbling through a hoop

Grass in a mesh of all flowers floundering
Sizzling leaves and blossoms bombing
Nestlings hissing and groggy-legged insects

And the trees
Stagger, they stronger
Brace their boles and biceps under
The load of gift. And the hills float
Light as bubble glass
On the smoke-blue evening

And rabbits are bobbing everywhere, and a thrush
Rings cooly in a far corner. A shiver of green
Strokes the darkening slope as the land
Begins her labour.

Ted Hughes “April Birthday” (1976)


Hero image by Alex Dram.