“Those Dying Generations at Their Song..”

We have a plethora of vernal pools this year, limpid little ponds formed by rain and snowmelt,opportunistically forming wherever there’s a hollow in a meadow or the forest floor. In spring, all the world’s a swamp! As Frost wrote: “The water for which we may have to look/In summertime with a witching wand/In every wheelrut’s now a brook,/In every print of a hoof, a pond.”

But here’s the thing about the vernal pools: they are where frogs breed. I have been wondering when I’d hear their mating calls. And today I did!

Just a few, like the first few drops of rain, and they fell silent as my dog Callie and I passed. But soon it’ll be a veritable crowd-noise. The sound is somewhere between clucking, clicking, and clunking. Just slightly metallic and tonal, though not the twang you hear later in the summer.

Here on our plateau, it is the anthem of Spring.

I was going to quote Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Poem Savage Beauty, about frog song, but I see I did that here last spring. So I’ll stick with Yeats. You know the poem from which my title is taken, Sailing to Byzantium, Or at least you know the first line:”That is no country for old men..”

”Fish, flesh and fowl commend all summer long/Whatever is begotten, born and dies./Caught in that sensual music all neglect/Monuments of unaging intellect.”

‘The poet wants OUT of the vita brevis and INTO the ars longa. The world of Nature holds nothing pleasant for the old:

“Once out of Nature I shall never take/My bodily form from any natural thing,/But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make/Of hammered gold and gold enameling..”

I get that: Nature is eternal, too, like art, but the individual organisms of nature’s kingdom are fungible. As the psalmist said: we spring up in the morning and are cut down in the evening. If we could become art, we could observe the passing scene forever without mourning our own imminent decline and death. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”—a beautiful human or animal, only temporarily.

It sucks. But would I get out of nature if I could? Maybe I would if I were a poet, a vessel of song, like Yeats was. But oh the music of the dying generations, the “honey of generation” as Yeats put it elsewhere.

How many more springs will I walk out and hear the frogs in their lust ? I don’t want to think. But would I love the music so much if I didn’t know that? Would I take a chance on, maybe not loving it forever, maybe getting bored with it?

just now, today hearing the frogs for the very first time this year—no I wouldn’t.

6 thoughts on ““Those Dying Generations at Their Song..”

  1. My backyard in SW Florida sounded like a Bud Light commercial at night because I owned a pond. (Tree frogs.)

    One of my most obnoxious neighbors (English) had to make a complaint. Bad mistake. I am a perfectly well mannered person until I am exposed to those who aren’t:

    “Go back to England where there are obviously no zoning standards. Your house is an eyesore and your dog run (that is visible to the street) is an embarrassment to the whole community. ”

    Called City Zoning where I am personal friends with the Director and problem solved. How boring , though, that I need to spend one minute of my time on this s**t.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Whoa, whoa—neighbor made a complaint about FROGS? Like the Zoning officer could cite them for excessive noise? That is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not in Naples so this is why I live on Amelia Island and sorry to admit this folks, “tree-huggers” and snooty environmentalists make lovely neighbors.

      Now don’t hate me! I live in peace. 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Frogs are music, not noise pollution! Bizarro World, so sorry, Liz!….But my hand-naturalized daffodils – thanks, Mom P. ! – are leafing/poking up at last; Lenten lilies. I love ’em so much….Irises, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I agree about frogs and I am a light sleeper but amphibians don’t bother me.

    I did have to make a road trip 4 miles from my house this morning to the local NRA chapter in my hood who permit outside target practice at 7 a.m. 4 miles sounds like a distance but it isn’t.

    My suggestion: “Take a cue from the CIA who does target practice indoors with headphones. I’m a member of your organization but I resent that I can’t sleep in or entertain during weekends. I DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN TO GUNSHOTS AT ANY TIME. Now work with me.”


    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s