Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Snow Man

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

I absolutely enjoy this poem. I think that I read it every day before I went to bed a couple of weeks ago. Stevens evokes the essence of winter, cold, and snow within this poem. The "Snow Man" is not a man in the snow, a person looking at a winterscape from a window, or a rushed pedestrian going through a park. He is a man with the snow predicating his being. This has come about by 1) having "a mind of winter." A mind of winter is a way of comprehending (or grasping) the objects and nature of winter--it's not to be shocked, shivering, but is comfortable and equal in position to the winter subject (the mental attribute). The second point enforces this: 2) "have been cold for a long time." To be comfortable and to allow winter to come inside oneself (the physical attribute). At this point, the winter-fear (misery) that people have to rush to the warm home or office is no longer at the forefront of the mind, but it is an embracing of the surrounding. Winter has a consistency or same-ness involved within it. The cold, the blanket of snow, the wind, and the appearance of everything. There is an emptiness or nothingness that is meant to be perceived--nothing more or less.


Unknown said...

I really like that poem. I had to read it a few times to get something out of it (partially because it is almost midnight). To "enjoy" or "appreciate" winter you must have a mind of it and be able to behold the "nothing" that so many people disdain or out right do not see, the nothing that can actually be. This goes for so many other things in life too. Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

Blake, great poem. We should get together sometime and discuss the rationality of logic and why Occam's Razor favors the existence of a God rather than atheism :-P