Saturday, November 21, 2015

Snows of Yesteryear

After a snowfall five years ago, I stood on the porch to look at my blue shadow,
to see the beauty of the snowy woods and to think about what it meant to be spending 
the winter in Michigan for the first time, since we built by the woods in 1994.
We were staying to have my husband's sudden onslaught of atrial fibrillation 
reversed in early January. All turned out well,since it was reversed and has never returned.
They stop the heart and start it again--that was just slightly scary!
For a long time the mark of the paddle that delivered electricity 
could be seen in a red mark on his back.
The shadow on the snow really was this blue, I didn't enhance it.
The trees in the back of the house are mostly young aspens,
which grow in clusters and form lovely dancing patterns 
with their groups of graceful trunks.


This new snow seems to speak of virgins
With frail clothes made of gold,
Just as the old snow shall whisper
of concierges in France.

The new dawn sings of beaches
Dazzling as sugar and clean as the clouds of Greece,
Just as the exhausted dusk shall sing
Of the waves on the western shore.

This new strength whispers of the darkness of death,
Of the frail skiff lost in the giant cave,
Just as in the boat nearing death you sang
of feathers and white snow;

Robert Bly   (December 23, 1926--  )

Silence in the Snowy Fields, Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1962,   Kindle page 16.

I'll give you three guesses as to why I thought of looking into this book, which I have loved for many years,to go with this photo. The Wallace Stevens part is a little more tricky: many years ago, Li Young Lee read from his poems in San Jose. He was carrying, in addition to his book and manuscripts, a battered copy of the poems of Wallace Stevens. Before that time, I had been sort of repelled by the difficulty I had in understanding Stevens' poetry (that Cigar, that Snowman, that Blue Guitar, that Jar in Tennessee!) but since that time, I have read and considered it more and perhaps we will even have one on this blog soon! There is some pretty great stuff there!

Last week I was making up a bundle of magazines to recycle, when I found an old literary journal with the title of an article "Understanding Wallace Stevens" on the cover. So I saved that one and brought is downstairs to read. My first two tries failed, or I was interrupted, but here it still sits on my coffee table.

As for the Bly poem, I have two quibbles. There is really no reason to use the descriptor "frail" twice in such a short poem. And I think all poets should think twice before hauling death into every poem, willy nilly.   And now Good Night!

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