Friday, June 08, 2007

The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

It's creeping up towards 95 degrees here in DC today, so this well-known Stevens poem is nice to think on.


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.




Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), a lawyer and business man for most of his life, is considered one of the great American poets of the 20th Century. More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 1921 poem, and Frost's 1923 "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening," are just the sort of troubling introspection that the neocons are trying to save us from. We're to get to work, and drown our worries and selves naturally in lives of obedience and struggle."

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the old wise men when we need them the most? On the eves of warmaking? On the days when cavalier vote casting takes precedence over thoughtful contemplation into the deep? How quickly we send our young to war when we might best be served by the intuitive introspective ways of the snow men we definitely are.

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