‘You can cut all of the flowers but you can’t keep spring from coming’
4th March 2021
Monday March 8th
‘You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming’. (Pablo Neruda)
Pablo Neruda was the pen name of the Chilean writer and politician Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1971 but more than once he had to flee for his life when he held views considered unacceptable to the Chilean government of the time. Finally although he died in 1973 at the age of 69 from cancer, many believe it may have been as a result of poisoning and the then leader of Chile, Colonel Augusto Pinochet, denied him a public funeral. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the military curfew and crowded the streets to honour him.
Learning about Neruda, cast a whole new light on how I first looked at this quotation, which is better understood as a metaphor for a life of persecution experienced by Neruda and others at the time. Whilst many were cut down and voices silenced by dictatorship, it would never prevent the eventual emergence of hope and freedom, signified by the emergence of spring after a hard winter. ‘You can cut all the flowers but cannot keep spring from coming’.
And spring really is coming – hallelujah! The signs were most definitely there on my sunny walk last weekend. The snowdrops have been out for a while but are now joined by hellebores, primroses, celandine and narcissi. The birds also seem to be gearing up, some collecting twigs for nest building and there was a multiplicity of birdsong ( if you don’t know your birdsong – I can recommend a brilliant app – BirdNET). After what has been a dark time for so many of us, these signs of spring remind us that while there has been undoubted loss the shoots of hope are pushing above the ground.
The reopening of school itself is one sign that the seasons are on the turn. This week we will be reunited with friends and colleagues and things start to seem more possible. Our return also coincides with International Women’s Day with the theme’ ChooseToChallenge’ and we will be exploring what this means for our girls personally and on the national and international stage. So as we emerge from the winter of the lockdown we should keep our eyes open for more signs of spring and perhaps reflect on what we value most of all, giving thanks that spring really is on its way.