Spring is sprung in many variations


Roger VanHaren

“Spring is sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is.”

My mom used to recite that silly little rhyme, and I suppose I’ve repeated it every spring since I was a kid, one of the many ways I have of keeping Mom alive in my memory.

I’ve heard some variations on the rhyme over the years, most often this one: “Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is.” But until I recently did a little searching on the ‘net, I’d never heard the whole poem. According to WikiAnswers (and what better source is there?), the poem is often attributed to a British-Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright and actor named Spike Milligan (1918-2003).

Milligan’s version goes like this:

“Spring is sprung.

The grass is riz.

I wonder where the birdies is?

The bird is on the wing.

Now isn’t that absurd?

I always thought the wing was on the bird!

Spring has sprung, the buds all break;

Spring has sprung and nature wakes.

Spring has sprung, winter’s gone

Now we sing our happy song

Tra-la, la-la, la-la, lay

Sweep the old dead leaves away.”

Whether Milligan wrote it or simply heard it, liked it, and repeated it is up for discussion. Some people credit Ogden Nash or even E.E. Cummings, but that’s not very likely. Instead, some researchers think it was probably started in Reno in the early ’40s and that several people had a hand in creating it.

There’s a version all in “New Yorkese,” or a Brooklyn accent. It seems, of course, to come from the New York area. This version is sometimes called “The Brooklyn National Anthem” and it dates back to at least 1940. There are many versions of it. Here’s one:

“Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,

I wonder where the boidies is

The boid is on the wing,

But that’s absoid

From what I hoid

The wing is on the boid!”

Dere’s even a Norvegian version:

“Der Spring hess sprung, der grass iss riz.

I vonder vhere der daisies iss.

Dey say dat the bird iss on the ving

But ain’t dat absurd?

Ve know dat the ving iss on the bird!”

And a Canadian version:

“Spring has sprung, The grass has riz.

Come out yourself And see how ‘tiz.”

And then I found this:

“Spring has sprung,

Fall has fell.

Now it’s Summer

and hotter than…usual.”

Ain’t this fun? You know, if we had no winter, Spring would not be so pleasant.

Well, since I started this out by talking about my mom, let me tell you Mom’s favorite joke. Mom was not a story teller or a joke teller; I never heard her tell another joke – ever. At least twice a year, when the geese were migrating, she’d tell “her” joke.

“You know how when the geese are flying in their regular V formation, one line is always longer? Know why that is? ‘Cause there’s more geese in that line!”

Then she’d laugh her silent little laugh; I never heard laugh out loud. But she’d get so tickled her eyes would water and she’d shake all over. I loved to tell her jokes; I loved to see that reaction. You’d have loved my mom!

Contact Roger VanHaren at rjmavh@gmail.com.