Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 383
. . . Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
In the first stanza, the speaker is on the road near the contagious hospital. He stops and sees the field beyond the hospital in which weeds lie dead and dried out. The poem is a meditation on death and rebirth. The speaker's proximity to the contagious hospital sparks his thoughts about death, and he sees death reflected in the weeds around the hospital. The title "Spring and All" conveys the idea that spring, a sign of rebirth, is also accompanied by the process of death and lack of growth.
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—
The speaker goes on to describe the deadness of the natural world around him. The world bears no mark of being awake. Everything is "sluggish," and the world does not seem to be alive. Spring is described as "dazed," as if it is confused and hardly awake. In this atmosphere of deadness, it's hard to imagine that spring and rebirth will take place, but they will.
They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter.
Here, the speaker is describing the leaves and vines around him, which enter the world naked and bare and uncertain of their future. The personification implies a connection to the way people themselves enter the world, naked and unsure but full of potential. The pattern of rebirth will repeat itself, even if it seems unlikely or unsure at first. Though the speaker is surrounded by death, rebirth will take place.
But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken
The way the leaves and grass enter the world seems "stark," or spare. However, their entrance also has "dignity," meaning that these newborn parts of nature command respect for the important process of rebirth that they are going though. Though the process of birth, or rebirth, is not one of immediate flowering, these parts of nature still have gone through the transformation of being born. They have deep roots and will be reborn. Similarly, though the people in the contagious hospital near the speaker seem to be dying, they have roots in nature. Birth and rebirth will continue to take hold.