Village Voice: Richard Blanco Shares Winter Weather Poems

02.04.22

Richard Blanco joins Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio to share “winter weather poems” that reflect the stark beauty and nuance of the season in this latest edition of “Village Voice.”

Enjoy the conversation and read along with the poems listed, which explore themes of surrender, loneliness; what winter does to us psychologically.

The Snow Man
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.

Below Zero
Jay Parini 

Ice petals on the trees.
The peppery black sparrows pour across
the frozen lawn.
The wind waits patiently behind the barn.

Though I’m not myself here, that’s okay.
I’ve lost my name,
my last address, the problem
that has kept me up all night this week in winter.

Such a long time coming,
this white timeless time in time,
with zero to the bone
the best thing anyone could ever say.

I stand here in the open,
full of straw, loose-limbed, unmuffled.
No one’s here, not-me as well,
this winter morning that goes on forever.

Lines for Winter
Mark Strand

for Ros Krauss

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

First Snow
Arthur Sze

A rabbit has stopped on the gravel driveway:

imbibing the silence,
you stare at spruce needles:

there’s no sound of a leaf blower,
no sign of a black bear;

a few weeks ago, a buck scraped his rack
against an aspen trunk;
a carpenter scribed a plank along a curved stone wall.

You only spot the rabbit’s ears and tail:

when it moves, you locate it against speckled gravel,
but when it stops, it blends in again;

the world of being is like this gravel:

you think you own a car, a house,
this blue-zigzagged shirt, but you just borrow these things.

Yesterday, you constructed an aqueduct of dreams
and stood at Gibraltar,
but you possess nothing.

Snow melts into a pool of clear water;
and, in this stillness,

starlight behind daylight wherever you gaze.

This episode of “Village Voice” first aired on January 31st, 2022.
Photo credit: Christian Sogaard at Unsplash.com