This song was stuck in my head through last May and beyond, after watching a magical matinee performance of As You Like It at Corpus Christie College, about which I wrote here: https://indumuralidharan.com/2017/05/31/a-play-for-the-spring-an-enchanted-afternoon-at-corpus-christi-college/
Looking back at that enchanted afternoon. Spring had charmed every tree and lawn in Oxford. To witness the weddings in the play, the audience was ushered into the chapel, noisily and joyfully charivaried by the actors singing about the ways of sweet lovers and their lasses and their love for the spring. The hauntingly beautiful premises of Corpus Christie, the blithe emoting of the young actors and the ethereal music blended with the season and made one dizzy with joy, grateful to be alive at that moment.
I spent a few days in Oxford this May, and found myself surrounded by real-life lovers and their lasses all around the place, drunk on the spring and oblivious to the world, billing and cooing to each other like birds might do, except that they were not perched discretely on trees but out and about in full view of the rest of the world. They were everywhere, like the daisies dotting the lawns. Stepping into St Giles’ churchyard on my way towards Banbury road, I came face to face with an elegantly dressed couple who were kissing avidly and noisily, seated comfortably on a grave. I hastily averted my eyes and walked away, only to run into another pair who stood entwined at the churchyard exit, blocking my path. I squeezed myself past them muttering apologies under my breath, but they were too preoccupied to give way or reply. On I walked towards the University Parks and took the middle path with open spaces on either side, rejoicing in the fresh air and sunshine when yet another young couple suddenly materialised as though from thin air, walking hand in hand in the direction towards me, lost in conversation, eyes only for each other. They stopped right in front of me, and … It was too late to look away. The picture brought to mind Swift’s Yahoos who expressed their feelings a little too openly and naturally, blissfully unaware of those common decencies that arise from the aftermath of civilisation. I amused myself by imagining a little speech bubble above their heads, filled with the words and symbols employed in old Disney cartoon strips when Mickey kisses Minnie, or Donald smacks Daisy.
I walked around them and made my way towards the Cherwell, towards a slightly more intimate encounter that I myself had in mind. After walking up and down the high bridge for a long time savouring the silence and the serenity of the place, I turned towards what I had gone to find – an ancient English oak tree by the riverside that must have seen Lewis Carroll punting down the river with Alice and her sister, Tolkien and C S Lewis taking a leisurely stroll after their review sessions at Eagle and Child, and perhaps John Fowles sitting on those very banks musing about metafiction and life, among a hundred other beloved writers. I stepped closer to the oak’s sturdy old roots and placed my palms on its weathered bark, and felt its pulsating energy answer me. The feeling of bliss and serenity that always permeates my mind when I am in Oxford washed over me in a deluge as I slowly circled my arms around the tree and hugged it close. A sense of home, of joy, of peace and immense love for the world filled me and made me replete with contentment, grateful to be alive in that moment. It was love, such love as one may feel for all sentient beings and indeed all entities on earth that had filled the air in my beloved city in the merry month of May.