An Ode to Spring: 20 Quotes to Welcome the Season

Nothing says new beginnings and second chances quite like spring

Ode on the Spring

Lo! where the rosy-bosom’d Hours,

Fair Venus’ train appear,

Disclose the long-expecting flowers,

And wake the purple year!

The Attic warbler pours her throat,

Responsive to the cuckoo’s note,

The untaught harmony of spring:

While whisp’ring pleasure as they fly,

Cool zephyrs thro’ the clear blue sky

Their gather’d fragrance fling.

—Thomas Gray (1716–1771)

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spring, that season of warmer weather, flowers blooming, birds returning, and longer days (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). The new season brings a revival of the body and spirit and proof that Mother Nature has this four-season routine on lock.

Writers have long waxed poetic about the bountiful nature of spring and how its arrival signals everything from new life (think: baby chicks and bunnies for Easter) to the dutiful purging of our personal belongings (see: spring cleaning). Shakespeare has paid homage to the season, as have Virginia Woolf, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, and others.

Our positive associations with the season might seem obvious—more daylight, a reprieve from the long winter months, an embarrassment of holidays—but humans’ long love affair with spring has roots in several different cultures and belief systems. The English name itself is believed to have replaced the word Lent, an Old English way to describe the season before the 14th century. Lent is derived from lencten or lengthen; the season’s original name referred to how days begin to lengthen with the arrival of spring.

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Iranian and Chinese cultures, spring marks the real beginning of the New Year according to their respective calendars and is commemorated with a thorough home cleansing to get rid of negativity and lingering spirits. Hence, some believe in the advent of spring cleaning. (Other historians believe spring cleaning is tied to the soot left in 19th-century houses at the end of a winter of kerosene lamps and coal fireplaces.)

In the Jewish tradition, spring marks the annual celebration of Passover, the occasion when persecuted Jews were liberated from slavery in Egypt. It is therefore a time of rebirth and a chance at new ways of being. In the Bible, spring symbolizes a time for growth and renewal; there is an undercurrent of awakening and revival that is tied to Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There’s also the philosophical take on spring as a metaphor for life on a grander scale—spring is when new life emerges from the cold of winter, when new ideas and projects begin to take root when we’re allowed to stretch our limbs and turn our faces toward the sun.

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The seasons have been used to describe the stage of growing older: Summer is a time of youth and movement and languishing in sensual delights; autumn turns folks inward as a symbol of maturity and transition; and winter is of course a time for reflection and dormancy, of preparing for deep sleep.

As a result, then, quotes about spring—as opposed to the other three seasons—are largely upbeat, hopeful, and bursting with the language of possibility and vivacity. Philosophers have heralded the return of spring as proof that there is light at the end of even the darkest tunnel and that there is much to learn from nature’s unwavering adherence to the four seasons.

Here, I’ve rounded up some particularly resonant quotes about spring gathered from a wide range of cultural and generational sources proving that our obsession with clean slates and new beginnings, while universal and deeply felt, is nothing new.

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Earth laughs in flowers.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hamatreya

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

—Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Nobody can keep spring out of Harlem. I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face. Sunshine patted me all over the head.

—Langston Hughes, The Early Simple Stories

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

—Anne Bradstreet

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.

—Jim Carrey

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here comes the sun, and I say it’s alright.

—George Harrison, Here Comes the Sun

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.

—Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.

—Author Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

—Poet Pablo Neruda

Come with me into the woods. Where spring is advancing as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.

—Mary Oliver, Bazougey

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.

—Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
—Lao Tzu

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor: Winter is dead.

—A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where flowers bloom so does hope.

—Lady Lady Bird Johnson

Spring is the time of the year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.

—Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 

What a strange thing! / to be alive / beneath cherry blossoms.

—Kobayashi Issa

April, dressed in all his trim, hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

—William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98

An ode to spring © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When April steps aside for May, like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten; fresh violets open every day; to some new bird each hour we listen.

―Lucy Larcom

I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.

—Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room