Carew is best known as a metaphysical poet for his poem ‘To my Inconstant Mistress.’ His work often contends with love and passion, mixing these human emotions together with natural imagery and figurative language. In ‘The Spring’, he demonstrates a simpler verse that is easy to read and interpret.
The Spring Thomas Carew Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream Upon the silver lake or crystal stream; But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth, And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee. Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring In triumph to the world the youthful Spring. The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array Welcome the coming of the long'd-for May. Now all things smile, only my love doth lour; Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold Her heart congeal'd, and makes her pity cold. The ox, which lately did for shelter fly Into the stall, doth now securely lie In open fields; and love no more is made By the fireside, but in the cooler shade Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep Under a sycamore, and all things keep Time with the season; only she doth carry June in her eyes, in her heart January.
Explore The Spring
‘The Spring’ by Thomas Carew depicts the spring season and the lack of change a speaker’s lover goes through.
The poet spends most of the poem describing how the earth changes from deepest winter to warmest spring. This includes birds and flowers waking up and animals moving into the sun to sleep. While all this is going on and the world is transforming, the speaker’s lover continues in January. No matter how warm it is outside, her heart remains cold to him.
The poet engages with the themes of spring and unrequited love. While all the animals in the world, and people, are changing their attitudes now that spring has arrived, the woman he loves still keeps her heart in January. He’s cold to him while everyone else in the world is showing warmth.
Structure and Form
‘The Spring’ by Thomas Carew is a twenty-four-line poem that is written in block form, meaning that all the lines are contained in one stanza. The poet follows an AABB rhyme scheme throughout the poem, a pattern commonly known as heroic couplets.
Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “now no” in line two and “casts” and “cream” in line three.
- Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds. For example, the lines: “Upon the silver lake or crystal stream.”
- Consonance: the repetition of consonant sounds. For example, “now no more the frost” and “to melt that marble ice, which still doth hold.”
- Personification: seen through the poet’s reference to winter as “her” and his description of the season’s “snow-white robes.”
- Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines two and three.
Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee.
In the first lines of this poem, the speaker begins saying that “winter’s gone” and the earth has lost “her snow-white robes.” This example of personification is only one of several used in the piece.
The world has changed severely. Most notably is the lack of frost on the grass, which Carew uses a metaphor to describe as “Candies” and how the sun is thawing out the other frozen parts of the earth.
The sun brings about the resurgence, like a woman giving birth, of the birds, flowers, and other plant life. The “dead swallow…wakes” the “drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee.” Everything is waking up at this time of year, the speaker implies, and taking note of the season.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array
Welcome the coming of the long’d-for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
Her heart congeal’d, and makes her pity cold.
Everything in the world smiles, the speaker says in these lines, that is, except his beloved. His love is the only one who still keeps a sad face while the minstrels play and the woods come alive with beauty. Everyone is ecstatic to welcome the season except for her.
Her heart is frozen, he continues, like the lakes formerly were, and no sun, no matter how powerful, has the strength to melt her icy heart.
Here, he is suggesting that he loves this woman but that no matter what he does, she does not return his love. She has no pity for him, he adds.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Into the stall, doth now securely lie
In open fields; and love no more is made
By the fireside, but in the cooler shade
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
Under a sycamore, and all things keep
Time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in her heart January.
In the final eight lines of ‘The Spring,’ the poet’s speaker describes how the world has changed. The ox used to hide from the inclement weather inside but has lately been lying in the open fields.
The poet includes an allusion in these lines to Amyntas and Chloris, two lovers who commonly appear in pastoral poems. The two used to hide inside from the weather and make love by “the fireside,” but now they’re out in the open enjoying the natural progression from cold winter to warm spring.
The speaker concludes by saying that everything in the world follows a natural pattern. Even the seasons eventually turn away from the cold and to the warm. But, the woman he loves is different. She is always cold and always has her heart firmly entrenched in “January.”
Here, he’s suggesting that no matter what he does, he can’t win her over. His unrequited love has not changed in spring, and her disinterest in him continues.
The poem is about unrequited love in the spring season. The speaker loves a woman who, despite spring bringing warmer temperatures, keeps her heart cold to him as though she’s forever living in winter.
The main idea is that even when it seems natural to show warmth and love, some people (partially this speaker’s love interest) remain cold and distant from those who love them.
Thomas Carew used personification, alliteration, assonance, consonance, metaphors, and more in ‘The Spring.’ The first of these, personification, is seen in the very first lines.
The poet describes winter as a snow-white robe that the earth puts on for a season and then sheds when it’s springtime.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Thomas Carew poems. For example:
- ‘To a Lady that Desired I Would Love Her’ – describes the emotional situation of a speaker who is unsure if his listener truly loves him.
- ‘To my Inconstant Mistress’ – describes the outcome of a failed relationship between the speaker and the intended listener of the poem.
- ‘To My Mistress Sitting by a River’s Side’ – compares the relationship between two lovers to the actions of a stream, river, and eddy.