shoveling: 60 minutes
deck, sidewalk, front steps
It’s official. February 2019 is the snowiest month in the recorded weather history of the Twin Cities. Almost 30 inches. No running today. I shoveled instead. The snow was light, fluffy, and abundant. So much snow! About an inch an hour. Not big flakes but still pretty to watch.
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.
note: The shape of this poem is pretty too, but WordPress isn’t letting me format it. Check out the shape of the lines–a snowflake, perhaps?–by clicking on the link in the poem’s title.
Snow as the poem of the air? Love it. Silent syllables revealed by a troubled sky? Haunting. You can listen to a beautiful reading of this poem on an episode of the Poetry Foundation’s podcast, Off the Shelf. As a bonus, here’s an essay about snow in poetry: Snow Days
A bonus poem: Windows
I’m including this poem because I’m thinking a lot about layers and insides and outsides/interiors and exteriors. What are some different ways that windows fit in here?
Quarried from snow, the dark walks lead to doors
That are dark and closed. The white- and high-roofed houses
Float in the moonlight of the shining sky
As if they slept, the bedclothes pulled around them.
But in some the lights still burn.
There is the world-
Storm-windowed, or curtained in the summer wind-
That I have watched and wished to live within.
Those who live there move seldom, and are silent.
Their movements are the movements of a woman darning.
A man nodding into the pages of a paper,
And are portions of a rite, have kept a meaning
That I, that they, know nothing of.
As dead actors on a rainy afternoon
Move in a darkened living room, for children
Watching the world that was before they were-
The looked-at lives, the lives that are not lived,
The windowed ones within their window world
Move past me without doubt, and for no reason.
These actors, surely, have known nothing of today,
That time of troubles and of me. Of troubles.
Morose and speechless, valuable with elation,
Changing, unsleeping, an unchanging speech,
These have not lived–look up, indifferent,
At me at my window, from the snow walk
They move along in peace, on winter evenings,
On summer evenings. . . . If only I were they!
Could act out, in longing, the impossibility
That haunts me like happiness!
I will push a window up and step inside.
Of so many windows, one is always open.
Next morning they will start to speak, and then smile speechlessly
And shift the plates, and set another place
At a table shining by a silent fire. . . .
When I have eaten they will say, “You have not slept.”
And from the sofa, mounded in my quilt,
My cheek on their pillow, that is always cool,
I will look up speechlessly into a-
It blurs, and there is drawn across my face
As my eyes close, a hand’s slow fire-warmed flesh.
It moves so slowly that it does not move.