Tag Archives: Winter

Devolving Winter

I lingered to watch the snowfall settle
upon an outside marble pedestal –
building layer-on-layer of snowflake and ice,
fractal and spacious, this echelon

drawn as a disk – its depth elevated
by landing these crystal forms intercalated
a structure withstanding the bitter wind,
conformed to the table’s circular whim.

Skimming this image, one wonders of words
that fall into place, or alight just like birds,
landing on branches selected ahead,
braving the wind and the ice also there.

Where, after the storm and the cold disappears,
the warming sun scratches, begins to shear
the sides of the snow-layered platter –
the melt dripping over the edge.

Alleged fair weather sets in
and devolves the lattice: winter’s has-been.
Leftover water pools in the center,
the plinth just a basis for puddles.

Then subtle, come birds, that alight like the words
that bathe in remnant splashes
and wing away the last fluency
of winter’s framework and brashness.

A Winter Song (A Cento)

In silence, they dissolve before dawn-
the words my heart was calling.
They are not in the sun,

I can hear the noiseless sound raining down.
Nothing but the white vowels of the wind,
a perfect song is loveless.
The snow is beautiful on the ground.

For still the night through will they come and go,
unerringly toward the same trysting-place,
making beauty
with iced and darkened flow
on every road I wandered by.

Music, I’ll call it music,
she must have a song at any cost
again and again out of the world’s cold deafness.

*****
This Cento is comprised of lines from the following poets:
Mo H Saidi, Sara Teasdale, Avot Yeshurun, AE Stallings, Miguel Hernandez, Kenneth Patchen, DH Lawrence, Tony Hoagland, Thom Gunn, Philip Levine, Margaret Julia Marks, Graham Foust, Carolyn Wells, AE Houseman, Dabney Stuart

Seasonal

The leaves lay spread amidst a coverlet of snow-

one a bit early, the other late in season

past reds and yellows – some time ago.

They were once green, connected stem to root –

and spring and summer rains

dripping from their tapered ends fed them –

their flowers and their shoots.

The rains that came in maelstrom or set in calming mist,

now fall glissando-like in frozen silhouette.

Lighting on the grass and ground,  setting to persist.

The time between these spells now hardly seems unfurled

and yet the leaves, now consummated, are ensconced in winter pearl.

 

Preparations

When I prepare the yard for winter,
the time when all is stark and lost,
the dead have wilted, scruff and ragged –
and I remove the chaff and croft.

As I gird the garden, whether
further growth is wont or not,
bedded mounds of soil and leavings
cover greener, fledgling thoughts.

Seeded verse on sorted papers
things that sleep beneath decay
seedlings of the spring and morrow
beauty fit for flow’red cliche’

Here I leave the hopes of summer
warm enchantments, an enclave
hidden from the weather – bitter
though purposed to save.

abandon

snow melting abandon
stenciled-
meant to carry away
the weep of wintry
bitterness.
drops that melted
from ice gripped
with steadfast assurances.
each drip an escapee
of purpose,
prone to wander
and feel its own
way, with only the sound
of sequent kin
that silence with distance.
winding catacombs
lead to some outcome,
to a gathering of likeness
that feeds the living
and absorbs
the dissolute elements
of the dead.

bonded

a yawn inside a swirly snowy globe shaken,
then stared upon,
watchful of how the plastic snowflakes
settle in among the quilted covers,
some together, lovers;
others left alone asleep
when winter plunders, slows and crawls.

Seemingly coerced to follow
in the fleeting moments
of traveled icy squalls,
gloom hears a single sigh that calls.
Far below caressing snow,
undermining bitter loneliness,
a beauty-green that sleeps, a wondrous seed:
a genesis to one day rise, accede
with a petal, rediscovered in the spring.
and myths are bonded, converging so-
and make your garden grow.

ffslomo-snowglobe-112712-09[1]

Acappella Friday: Winding up Winter

A cappella music (without instrumental accompaniment) is particularly enjoyable for me to listen to. As a poet (and an avocational musician), I am drawn to the similarities that poems and a cappella music have. Lyrical phrasing, meter, rhyming, and onomatopoeia mean so much to a cappella music, because it relies so heavily on the human vocal element.

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So…winter is in full force, all wound up, blustery, snowy, icy, and *cold*.

A blogging friend posted Shakespeare’s “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” in her regular Wednesday poetry feature and it jogged a memory. A memory of a song that I couldn’t get out of my head once I read the poem.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
(William Shakespeare)

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

I’ve always interpreted this as Shakespeare writing about the nasty part of human relationships being worse than the bitterness of winter. Juxtaposed bleakness with heigh-ho and the holly seems a little tongue in cheek, or is it just him saying “I get it, I can’t depend on most people, but I’ll be jolly anyway.”

Anyway, the song…Again, this is not acapella, and I may have to rename this feature…but the inspiration of poetry to write music is undeniable.

John Quilter (1877-1953) was a composer of songs and light orchestral music in England. One of his songs was a setting of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, as part of his Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6. I recall this song from my college days, either during my short experience in voice lessons or perhaps one of my voice major friends doing this on a recital. But the melody immediately came to mind when I read the poem.

Being in a minor key, the inital verse is conveyed brilliantly by the swirling phrasing, and the heigh-ho section is very different…much more hey nonny nonny no (like a madrigal).

The recording I found was of famed English tenor Gervase Elwes (who incidentally, was actor Cary Elwes great-grandfather) performing the song in 1916. Quilter and Elwes collaborated on a number of songs prior to Elwes tragic death in 1921. This is a great performance. And I love the olde English pronunciation of “wind” – Wynd.

I discovered a second setting of this poem, a choral version written by John Rutter. The choral composition is much more haunting and consistent than the art song version. There are no sudden shifts in style (as with the Quilter version), and the accompaniment adds to the bleak winter ambience. It is very beautiful, mysterious and very Rutteresque, if you are familiar with his choral pieces, I think you’ll understand.

I think perhaps the poem may lose some of its intention in this composition by not contrasting more between the heigh-ho/holly and the winter wind, but it is beautifully written.