Seasons-Spring and Winter in “Whistling of Birds” by D. H. Lawrence”Whistling of Birds” by David Herbert Lawrence is a depiction of the vividness of his writings and his own artistic vision and thought. In this essay he has elucidated the change of seasons- change from winter to spring- in an impressive way by the use of images, similes and metaphors..
Winter, as he narrates, brings woe and causes wreck. The intense frost that sustained for several weeks caused the death of birds. The remnants of the beautiful bevy of birds – lapwings, starlets, thrushes, lied scattered in the fields. The “invisible beasts of prey” had wolfed the birds. The winter had massacred the song birds and their blood-soaked skins were spread all around. The beings that could not shield themselves against its rigours shivered with cold and were exposed to the fury of biting cold winds. Winter thus had brought a host of hardships to the poor souls who found it hard to face the vagaries of the weather.
Oh, the long and dreary Winter!
Oh, the cold and cruel Winter! – LONGFELLOW, Hiawatha
Then sudden change appeared. The way wind began to blow depicted change of weather. The winds were warm and during the day shimmers sunlight could be seen. The birds began to chirp uncomfortably, without a pause. The doves were uttering strained coos as the influence of winter prevailed on them. Their attitude was queer. It was like a overlapping season. The surroundings were still snow carpeted. They kept on cooing with weakness. The breeze was still chilly enough to hurt. The subdued sunlight provoked the birds to chirrup in feeble tones. During the hard frost, deathly silence held sway. Then with the slight change of conditions, the whistling of birds appeared to be a peculiar act. It was extremely difficult to accept the change. The writer inquires for it, as the earth had been covered with the sheet of lacerated cadavers. The scene was quite frightening and alerting as the birds kept on tweeting and spreading their “silver” songs all around in the winter-effected surroundings. The joy and defiance of the birds amazes and inspires him; it is the image of all brave rebirths. The birds were reconciling to the death of the other birds. They were forgetting the dead world in order to join the new bright one.
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind.” -Shelley, Ode to the West Wind.
If there comes a little thaw,
Still the air is chill and raw,
Here and there a patch of snow,
Dirtier than the ground below,
Dribbles down a marshy flood;
Ankle-deep you stick in mud
In the meadow while you sing,
“This is Spring.” -C. P. Cranch, A Spring Growl
Winter had receded. It was the dawn of a new world, a world that was entirely different from the previous drab one. The advent of spring brought forward colour and vivacity. Balmy breeze was a clear sign of spring. But it was “premature” as the snow had not melted and the wings were thrown all over the place. Yet the birds were announcing the drastic change because they had no choice. The warble of the birds could be heard far and wide. The tiny, beautiful, vulnerable and brave birds are a symbol of everything Lawrence championed: the courage to affirm, the refusal to be cowed by the winter frosts of tragedy and death.
For lo! The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of turtle is heard in our land.” -Song of Solomon
The writer is astounded at the sudden change and renewal of the surroundings. He wants to know whence the sound is coming. He was surprised at the restoration of harmony and the acceptance of change from the birds. The song emerges from deep inside their throats. The songs arouse like a spring from the fountains in their throats. Nature has endowed them with the quality to make the best of everything. They had to comply with the change. Life emanated from their souls as songs of joy.
During the winter, when the snow had obscured the earth, the birds were muted. They anticipated for the frosty obstruction to peter out and as the impediment dwindled, the lustrous land became visible and flowers blossomed. “Under the surge of ruin, unmitigated winter, lies the silver potentiality of all blossom.” Beneath the mantle of snow existed the flourishing vigour that had been latent and then it apeared with full bloom. The renewal was natural.
Came the spring with all its splendour
All its birds and all its blossoms, All its flowers, leaves, and grasses. – LONGFELLOW, Hiawatha
“The order has changed, there is a new regime, sound of a new vive! vive”
It was vain to gaze at the horrible panorama of destruction; the dead birds. The havocs and the indignant frigidity must be forgotten. The harsh winter had abated. The writer comments that it is not our choice. We may persist to be under the influence of winter, but not for long. Ultimately we will yield and join the flow. It is out of our control. Anyhow we have to let bygones be bygones and sing and rejoice. Even if we kept on glaring at the devastation and observed the departure of winter, nevertheless the dulcet songs of the doves were audible as they exhilarate. The new change helped perpetuate their euphoria.
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. -Tennyson, Locksley Hall
One may not accept the transition but one can not cease it either. Nothing happens according to our will. The landscape altered, the trees flourished, flowers burgeoned and the state of bliss extended.
“For it is in us, as well as without us.” It affects us internally and externally. The surroundings abound with the joy of the spring and it also subsists in our souls. The weather affects our moods and styles. It compels us to be jubilant. The outer joy corresponds with the inner joy. The atmosphere imposes its influence.
“The spring is within us, the silver fountain begins to bubble under our breast, there is gladness in spite of ourselves.” In the jiffy, when we accept the gladness and adhere to it, we experience the change that gradually occurred in spite of the utmost wretchedness and oodles of dead bodies.
Winter stayed for long and the snow started to melt just a day ago. WE have forgotten the tough time. It appears to be just an illusion. But spring time is reality. We are cognizant of the past existence of winter; “the earth was strangled and mortified” and life had to suffer. But this all foregone knowledge is something extraneous to us. Winter was like “a storm, or a mist or a falling from a height. It was entangled with us, like bats in our hair driving us mad.” Winter then passed away, and happiness blossomed.
The occurrence of spring and winter is incongruous. The writer regards spring as life and winter as death. HE has elucidated the difference in the two modes of life. When death prevails, life is absent. “Whilst there is death, life is not to be found.” The engulfing deluge of death remains dominant. Then with a change, life showed up. WE can be either with life or death and can not be with both synchronously. “We are for life, or we are for death, one or the other but never in our essence both at once.” In the winter we were encompassed with death. The cold frost had hurled us in the mist of darkness and misery. In spring we were surrounded by beauties and charms. The singing birds in the bushes could not be associated with the tattered integuments of birds. “All is compatible with all.” The melodious songs could not be heard in the realm of the dead. The silver-toned sounds can only be perceived in a lifeful place. An ecstasy exits in the land of life. This jubilance is to be found in spring. There are no signs of gloom. In the kingdom of death anguish and affliction exist. “Where one is the other is not.” Thus life and death, spring and winter, merry and melancholy can not dwell together.
Life can not come to a halt. The living ones have to forget the non living. The birds can not refrain from singing. The blackbird sings its tunes although its kin had perished. HE is fortunate not to be in the dead so he can not lament for long over the deceased. It is spiritually dead, but yet has to survive. “The dead must bury the dead.” It has to forget the dead ones. IT has to reconcile with the renewal of the surroundings. It has been hurled into a new and different heaven where its voices its songs of felicity. Te change from death to renewal is “death from death” i.e. liberation from the real death. The permutation holds one in wonder while he sings for the fresh feeling
Although his fellows are dead, he endeavoured to live. The dead are buried. He has forgotten his sorrow as it is natural for him. He has overpowered the terrorizing sorrow of the dead companions. He continues with his whistling.
Whistling affirms passionately the irrepressible renewal of life after death and destruction. The essay describes the renewal of the birds’ song after the long and dreary winter. The song is a metaphor for life that is chosen, willingly and deliberately. Lawrence is not alone in his determination to choose life. Many others have reached the same decision after grappling with the horror of death in their minds and souls. In Whistling, Lawrence celebrates the impulse to life that cannot be quenched–the hope that lives in all of us. He uses the metaphor of the whistling of birds for his depiction of this inextinguishable flame of life and hope in humans. Lawrence not only affirmed life but insisted on the inevitability of it:
“Who can thwart the impulse that comes upon us?
It comes from the unknown upon us,”
Faith of life is generated in them; they have escaped from the dreadful shadows of death. It becomes essential for us to relocate from the zone of death to life.
Thus the two seasons, spring and winter, have been clearly portrayed by the writer. The change that fascinated him has been explained in a vivid way that it enthralls the readers too.