Sunday, January 17, 2010

Poem of the Week: "The Snow Man," by Wallace Stevens

Suddenly, out of the blue this weekend, I decided I need to read more Wallace Stevens. When I was younger, I hated Stevens with his absurdism, his big words and showy line structure. But now that I'm older and smarter, I am finding his stuff stirring and honest. So expect to hear more about my quest to get to know Wallace Stevens better in the next few months (along with my quest to read more W.H. Auden and Robert Lowell; apparently this is the Winter of Dead White Male Poets). In the meantime, here is one of Stevens's most well-known poems, "The Snow Man." Obviously, it fits the month quite well.

The Snow Man, by Wallace Stevens

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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