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POETRY by Sandra Shaffer Van Doren

Hymn to Spring, with Seven-Fold Amen


The moon and the stars glide more quickly through night,
now that sun has insisted on earlier light,
which wakens the birds whose matutinal song
is a paean exulting that dark’s at last gone.
Sing praises, sing praises,
for spring has returned!
Glory, amen and amen!

From earth and from branches sprout leaflets in green
so brand new it’s as though it had never been seen
before in the world, and in myriad shapes,
with some coiled like fern fronds, some rigidly straight.
Sing praises, sing praises,
for spring has returned!
Glory, amen and amen!

For burgeoning warmth, the new greens all rejoice,
while the birds add their thanks in one rapturous voice,
as even in rain, throughout lightning and storm,
they depend on life’s bounty to keep them from harm.
Sing praises, sing praises,
for spring has returned!
Glory, amen and amen!

So, sheltered and warmed, the birds nest and bear young,
small ravenous creatures, their songs not yet sung
in praise of the gift of the miracle–spring,
though no doubt by next year they also will sing
with praises, sweet praises,
for spring has returned!

Sing glory, sing GLORY! Amen.


by Sandra Shaffer VanDoren

Curled tight as a new-born’s fist,
the fern fronds unfurl slowly,
finger by finger in the
quiet spring sun, and lacy
hands reach out to touch the heat,
to tap gently on still air.


An infant on a blanket
nearby tries to raise her head,
which wobbles slightly on its
slender neck, a little like
a fern frond in a rare breeze,
as the baby stretches up,
already wanting to plunge
into this warm, green-laced world.

Her brother, aged two, squats by
the edge of the fern garden,
chatting like a small squirrel
in his rapid toddler-speak,
clearly trying to tell his
patient mother about the ferns,
their wavy fingers, the sun
and the worm he saw wiggling
around in the rich black earth.

The old woman sitting on
a bench close by watches them.
She sees the ferns uncurl their
fists, the baby lift her head,
the toddler exploring and
explaining, and rejoices
that, even in her final years,
she can witness once more life’s
renewed possibilities.

Sandra Shaffer VanDoren is a retired archivist who worked last at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Research in Philadelphia. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Lyric, Iambs and Trochees, Edge City Review, and Mobius. She studies ballet, loves gardening, and enjoys spending time with her husband and three grandsons.