Some Lockdown thoughts on Paula Meehan’s poem ‘Seed’

One of the reasons I read poetry is to find the words that capture how I’m feeling. ‘Seeds’ by Paula Meehan did this for me today. It seems to me to be a poem that acknowledges depression but still sustains hope. It captures the feeling I want to imagine myself experiencing when Spring arrives and we are still in Lockdown, waiting for COVID-19 to pass by like a forest fire on the other side of a fire break.

Here is the text:

‘Seed’ by Paula Meehan

The first warm day of spring 
 and I step out into the garden from the gloom 
 of a house where hope had died 
 to tally the storm damage, to seek what may 
 have survived. And finding some forgotten 
 lupins I'd sown from seed last autumn 
 holding in their fingers a raindrop each 
 like a peace offering, or a promise, 
 I am suddenly grateful and would 
 offer a prayer if I believed in God. 
 But not believing, I bless the power of seed, 
 its casual, useful persistence, 
 and bless the power of sun, 
 its conspiracy with the underground, 
 and thank my stars the winter's ended.

This winter, with its too-short days and its too-cold nights, is sapping my spirits.

I used to laugh at tee-shirts saying ‘I’m up and dressed, what more do you want?’ Now it seems like a valid question.

COVID-19 is killing 1,200 people a day in the UK. In some parts of the country, one person in thirty-five has the virus. Widespread vaccination is months away. In times like these, Winter seems to be a standard-bearer for the disease and I find it hard to sustain enough hope to light my days.

But Spring will come and I will go out ‘to tally the storm damage, to seek what may have survived’ and I’ll ‘thank my stars the winter’s ended‘.

But, before then, I need to think about what seed to plant, what ‘casual, useful persistence’ I should nurture. I suspect the best thing to seed is kindness: to my family, to strangers and to myself. I think whatever grows from that will have promise.


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