Robert Atwan, founding editor of The Best American Essays, has gathered an eclectic and spirited collection of 40 poems about spring. This season of renewal is usually greeted with good cheer and even glee by most people. The natural world bursts forth with freshness and beauty, and our hearts sing in response. (Of course, a few stubborn souls still hold out for the pleasures of summer, the surprises of fall, or the heartier challenges of winter.)

Here poet Philip Larkin in "The Trees" marvels at what is said as leaves emerge out of buds: "Begin afresh, afresh, afresh." Anne Sexton perks up in "It Is a Spring Afternoon" and notes: "This has all happened before / but nothing here is obsolete. / Everything here is possible." Yes, that is an essential mark of the season: the rising in us of fresh chances to strut our stuff. In Hold April, Jesse Stuart admonishes us to salute in our souls this month when "there's music in the air, / when life is resurrected like a dream." Other poets represented in this collection include Walt Whitman, John Updike, Mary Oliver, William Carlos Williams, Jane Kenyon, and e.e. cummings.

It is fitting that April is National Poetry Month, a time to turn to this wonderful medium to contemplate our dreams and savor the world around us with new eyes. The Language of Spring stimulates our senses and sends us out to rejoice in the marvels of nature.