Spring In Town, by Lord Dunsany
At a street corner sat, and played with a wind, Winter disconsolate.
Still tingled the fingers of the passers-by and still their breath was
visible, and still they huddled their chins into their coats when turning
a corner they met with a new wind, still windows lighted early sent out
into the street the thought of romantic comfort by evening fires; these
things still were, yet the throne of Winter tottered, and every breeze
brought tidings of further fortresses lost on lakes or boreal hill-slopes.
And not any longer as a king did Winter appear in those streets, as when
the city was decked with gleaming white to greet him as a conqueror and
he rode in with his glittering icicles and haughty retinue of prancing
winds, but he sat there with a little wind at the corner of the street like
some old blind beggar with his hungry dog. And as to some old blind
beggar Death approaches, and the alert ears of the sightless man
prophetically hear his far-off footfall, so there came suddenly to
Winter's ears the sound, from some neighbouring garden, of Spring
approaching as she walked on daisies. And Spring approaching looked
at huddled inglorious Winter.
"Begone," said Spring.
"There is nothing for you to do here," said Winter to her. Nevertheless
he drew about him his grey and battered cloak and rose and called to
his little bitter wind and up a side street that led northward strode away.
Pieces of paper and tall clouds of dust went with him as far as the city's
outer gate. He turned then and called to Spring: "You can do nothing
in this city," he said; then he marched homeward over plains and sea
and heard his old winds howling as he marched. The ice broke up
behind him and foundered like navies. To left and to right of him flew
the flocks of the sea-birds, and far before him the geese's triumphant
cry went like a clarion. Greater and greater grew his stature as he went
northwards and ever more kingly his mien. Now he took baronies at
a stride and now counties and came again to the snow-white frozen
lands where the wolves came out to meet him and, draping himself
anew with old grey clouds, strode through the gates of his invincible
home, two old ice barriers swinging on pillars of ice that had never
known the sun.
So the town was left to Spring. And she peered about to see
what she could do with it. Presently she saw a dejected dog coming
prowling down the road, so she sang to him and he gambolled. I saw
him next day strutting by with something of an air. Where there were
trees she went to them and whispered, and they sang the arboreal
song that only trees can hear, and the green buds came peeping out as
stars while yet it is twilight, secretly one by one. She went to gardens
and awaked from dreaming the warm maternal earth. In little patches
bare and desolate she called up like a flame the golden crocus, or its
purple brother like an emperor's ghost. She gladdened the graceless
backs of untidy houses, here with a weed, there with a little grass.
She said to the air, "Be joyous."
Children began to know that daisies blew in unfrequented corners.
Buttonholes began to appear in the coats of the young men. The work
of Spring was accomplished.