Sestina in Spring

Among Winter Cranes
The Quarterly of the Christian Poetics Initiative
Vol. 3 Issue 3
Summer 2020

Sestina in Spring
By Esther T. Hu

Let it come, as it will, and don’t

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come.

After a scholarly Roundtable with one’s

academic peers, the audience satisfied

with intricate details from Shakespeare, branches

from training and experience giving wonder

(it’s a tragedy because Romeo’s mother

dies of grief over her son), I hear voices

Fade as Wellesley confirms its first case. Voices

instruct all BU faculty to move one’s

classes online during Spring Break. My mother

would surely have been content and satisfied

with such speed, while my students justly wonder:

“Is America safe?” We are linked branches.

A birdsnest snugly nestled in the branches

of our rhododendron; excited voices

calling, “Mom! Come see!” express childlike wonder

and joy. Once outside, I lift the younger ones

up, up to see four hungry mouths satisfied

by the timely offerings of able mother

While Robin father calls loudly to mother

a full-throated voice among maple branches,

leaving my children partially satisfied

with the likely story that their bird voices

debate if fresh worms suffice for little ones?

This Spring morning fills hearts with blessèd wonder

A bless’d Hope in a bleak land. Joyful wonder

and reminder: “The Earth that’s nature’s mother

is her tomb; /…her burying grave… is her womb.” Ones’

children, nevertheless, tender young branches

from the Nation’s trunk, now hear angry voices

justly lament: How can we be satisfied

While 82,389 lives have “satisfied”

the enemy virus by June? We wonder

when will our American expert voices

unite to fight? We simply pray as Mother

would: “May unity join government branches.”

The Holy Ghost broods over His chosen ones.

May your souls be satisfied. As a mother

comforts her child, My wonder-full Love branches

forth; bright wings still My dear ones’ hearts and voices.

Composed during the Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020

Prof. Esther T. Hu
Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program | Fellow,
International History Institute | Affiliated Faculty, Center for the
Study of Asia, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies
Boston University
ethu@bu.edu


Epigraph: “Let Evening Come,” ll. 16-18, Jane Kenyon.

Line 2: At the Northeast Modern Language Association’s 51st Annual Convention in Boston, MA on March 6, 2020 for a “Roundtable on Teaching and Engaging Shakespeare in the Classroom.”
Line 7: The first confirmed coronavirus case in nearby Wellesley, MA occurred on March 6, 2020.
Line 8: Boston University, an institution of higher learning located in Boston, MA. The university began as the Newbury Biblical Institute in 1839. In 1847, it became the Methodist General Biblical Institute and was located in Concord, New Hampshire, which in 1867 became the Boston Theological School, the founding College of Boston University.
Line 9: “Spring Break”: March 6-14, 2020.
Line 14: A forty-three second video clip is available at: https://1drv.ms/v/s!ApB2cLDo4f71xkLQCwdM–Zl7WGL
Line 25: “A bless’d Hope in a bleak land.” “The Darkling Thrush,” l. 31, Thomas Hardy.
Line 27: “The Earth…womb.” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Lines spoken by Friar Lawrence: “The Earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb; / What is her burying grave, that is her womb” (2.3.9-10).
Line 31: “82,389 lives.” Statistic from Johns Hopkins University, CNN, June 1, 2020.
Line 36: “The Holy Ghost broods…” Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur,” ll. 9-14:
  And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
  And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
  Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings
Line 38: “comforts her child: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13a.
Line 39: “… wings”: “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4.

Image Credit:

Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. “Momoyogusa = Flowers of a Hundred Generations.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1909. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-cb13-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99