Friday, June 19, 2009

Poem of the Day: "The Snow Man"

This has become something of a pattern -- Norm Geras posts one of his weekly profiles of a blogger, in this case Matt Yglesias; the profile includes, among other things, a listing of the blogger's favorite poem; Norm links to the poem; I read the poem and realize, remember, or newly appreciate how much I love it.

And thus is a new post under the poetry rubric born to this precious, precious blog, this time for a poem by Wallace Stevens, whose work can't be too highly celebrated. The success with which this poem establishes atmosphere is almost magical -- the sense of quiet and solitude is palpable, as though Stevens has placed us in a remote place with nothing but the wind and a snowman of unknown origin: a "mind of winter" in which a small scene unfolds.

Wallace Stevens, "The Snow Man"

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

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