Have I mentioned to you before how much I love winter? There is a sweet purity in the crisp, whiteness of a field freshly bound in snow that gives me a strange sense of exhilarating joy. I get the same feeling with a fresh piece of lined paper and a newly sharpened pencil. During the last week, we’ve had quite a bit of snow here and it has made my heart happy. The boys were home from school on Wednesday and they made the most of the snow day, helping me shovel the driveway, then constructing tunnels and roadways through the piles of snow with their construction trucks.
I wanted to find a few poems about snow and I’ve come to realize you can really tell a lot about a poet by the way they treat winter in their poems. I wanted a love poem for Winter. I found: “Winter: A Dirge” by Robert Burns. No. Not what I was looking for. I read a poem by William Blake entitled “To Winter.” Sounded promising. Then I read, “Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings, To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks: He withers all in silence, and in his hand Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.” Blake was not a lover of snow, I take it.
Faithful Robert Frost shares my love of Winter. Robert Louis Stevenson and William Carlos Williams, too, I think. So, for you, a few poems to fill your Sunday afternoon.
Looking For a Sunset Bird in Winter
by Robert Frost
The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.
In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.
No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.
From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.
A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.
Snow Fort by Raymond A. Foss
It all starts
with the quality,
the density, the size
of the snow bank.
True now, true forty years ago;
it is the critical ingredient.
We piled it high, over successive storms,
waiting not so patiently
for the right time. The right mix
of wet and cold
Digging, with shovels, with hands
creating a dome, an inner sanctum
interconnected tunnels, in and out
meeting in the middle
all within the pile of snow.
Winter-Time by Robert Louis Stevenson
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.
When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.
Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their bud
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.