The poem is a narrative of a surprise birthday party being prepared while the speaker (the birthday celebrant) is kept from learning about the preparations by being taken out for a walk, probably by her husband. The poem is set in springtime as can be gleaned by the images of the “tender ferns” and “budding leaves”. Spring as setting is relevant to the poem because this season connotes happiness, celebration and activity. It is an appropriate mood to serve as background to a narrative about a happy occasion, specifically, a birthday. Spring also symbolizes the beginning of a new life, a new year.
It is an optimistic manner of looking forward to another cycle of seasons. It is full of activity, the earth and all beings and insects that were frozen within during the cold months wake back to life. Birthdays are like these. A birthday means the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one for an individual. It is an optimistic beginning, a hope for happiness that would last the entire forthcoming year. The poem, like spring, also has a tone of joy and activity from start to finish. Two people go for “pancakes at the local diner/followed by a walk in search of mayflowers”.
Meanwhile, friends bustle at the house “bearing casseroles and a cake”, putting together the surprise party. All the images in the lines are full of life. Some birthdays are sad occasions for individuals, of course, but not in this particular poem. The setting, springtime, is both apt and relevant to make the reader understand the tone and meaning that the poem would like to convey. Spring, once it comes after a long and dreary winter, is full of happy surprises and unpredictability. Just like a surprise birthday party, especially in the perspective of the surprised celebrant.
Work Cited Kenyon, Jane. Surprise.