The May 21, 1887 edition of Golden Days for Boys and Girls included among its short stories and poems a lovely poem called The Blind Girl and the Spring by Sydney Grey. I could not find any information about Sydney Grey other than that she (I presume) was also likely the author of a 19th century children’s book called Story Land (1886). Our lack of knowledge about the life of Sydney Grey need not impair our enjoyment of her poem, which would have been a natural fit in my article on the subject of literary signs of spring.
Below, I reprint the original poem, “The Blind Girl and the Spring,” in its entirety.
“The Blind Girl and the Spring”
Yes, it is true that I am blind (it was not always thus), But oft it comes into my mind how God can comfort us. For if, of some good gift bereft, we bend before His will, He ever has a blessing left which should our sorrows still. This very morn I found it so; scarce had the day begun, Ere with small, pattering, restless feet that hither swiftly run, The children came in joyous mood, and shouted, “Spring is here!” And when they led me through the wood, I knew that she was near. I felt her breath upon my cheek, and while we walked along, A thousand times I heard her speak the rustling leaves among, In tones as though a harp had thrilled beneath an angel’s touch, And all my soul with rapture filled: yet when I said as much, The others laughed and whispered low, “Nay, nay, it is the wind!” To them perhaps it might be so; but, ah! if folks are blind, They learn in every sound that floats around their pathway dark— The breeze, the brook, the glad bird-notes—some hidden voice to mark. Therefore, when spring begins to don her garments fresh and gay, Because I cannot look upon her beauty day by day, Nor see the pointed crocus flame above the garden mold, Nor watch the snowy tips that frame the daisy’s heart of gold; Because unto my longing eyes may never be displayed The changeful glory of the skies, warm shine and soothing shade, Nor the great sun’s far-reaching rays which crown the day with light, Nor yet the star-lit purple haze that comes before the night; She breathes the tender tale to me, in accents clear and plain, Until I nearly rend the veil and see it all again. And though I’m blind, I know quite well, when to the woods we go, The place to find the wild bluebell, and where the lilies blow; Shy violets tell me, as I pass, their buds are at my feet, And through the lengthening meadow-grass run murmurs soft and sweet. Oh! I thank God that He doth bring such daily joy to me, For even I can welcome spring, like happy girls who see.
The Story of The Blind Girl and the Spring
The poem features a young girl who had once been able to see before going blind. At the beginning of spring, she is led into the wood by children. On her springtime walk, she thinks to herself that while God took her sight, He left her with a certain blessing. In the narrator’s case, she could hear spring’s breath on her cheek announcing that spring was near.
The narrator tells the children she is with that she can hear the voice of spring. They insist that she is only hearing the wind, but she believes that it only seems this way to people that can see. The narrator notes in her poem that while she could not see the crocuses or the daisies, the sunlight and the shade, the dawn or “the star-lit purple haze that comes before the night,” she could hear the “tender tale” that spring breathed to her “in accents clear and plain.”
Even without sight, the young narrator knew through listening and feeling where to find the bluebell, lilies, and violets – and where the wind rustled the meadow grass. The girl concludes with a note of gratitude: “Oh! I thank God that He doth bring such daily joy to me, / For even I can welcome spring, like happy girls who see.”
The story of The Blind Girl and the Spring bears two outstanding messages for readers young and old: gratitude and appreciation of nature. Firstly, while few would consider going blind to be a desirable state of affairs, the young girl who serves as narrator considered what she gained from the circumstance. Full of gratitude as she was, she believed that God had given her something for her having lost her eyesight. What she gained was an appreciation of nature, and the ability to hear and feel things that people who could see could not hear or feel. Secondly, the girl teaches readers to fully appreciate nature. Someone who can see may not be able to experience nature in exactly the same way as the narrator. However, by attending to the moment and not taking for granted things that people with all of their senses may be wont to do, one can find many of the same things that the girl found when she lost her ability to see.
A job well done to Sydney Grey.