A few hours after I posted last week’s poetic rant about the awfulness of winter, I received an e-mail from someone I count as one of my dearest friends, even though she adores everything about this miserable, nasty, icy, wet, frigid, virus-ridden, snowy season.*
The message contained a poem, followed by two words: “So there.”
I have to admit, Robert Bridges makes a compelling, lyrical defense. I’d expect no less from a Poet Laureate of England and co-founder of the Society for Pure English.
Argumentative bunch, them, but eloquent.
When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled—marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’
With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.
All right, Vannie . . . I’ll think about it.
*And also encourages her small son to call me “Aunt Weenie”, for certain reasons I don’t care to discuss at the moment— they’re archived around here, someplace, if anyone cares to go hunting—and also because there are three thousand miles of ocean between us, so she thinks she’s safe. Thank heavens the boy has a (brilliant) mind of his own; he calls me “Auntie Sa’merica,” instead.
Image “Snow Day” courtesy of David Davies
Image “Snow in Neasden. London,” courtesy of Billy Hicks