Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poem (with apologies to Blake): Waiting for snow


All of November nearly gone, and not a snowfall worth chatting about around the office water cooler. Cooled water, harumph! I want snow. We went to see the Nutcracker the other night. Lovely, you know. The dance of the snowflakes just beautiful, and the Snow King and Queen. But, harumph!

I wander around the meadow path, and all I can find is evergreen and brown. Where is the harsh winter that was promised, huh?

In my snowlust, I walked and could not get "The Tyger" out of my head, though that is about stars and tigers and the Creator and what is simultaneously terrifying and beautiful. I thought about my recovering mother-in-law and the proximity of terror and joy: almost gone, then in a day or two sprouting jokes and love. The air was cold, and I kept thinking about the tearful symmetry of snowflakes, and the dancing ones in Nutcracker, and the rhythm of my feet on the ground that was beating out rhyming, metered verse. Like this. (Seriously, my apologies to Wm. Blake for this.)

Waiting for snow

Snowflake, snowflake, come to me
down the spiral of this breeze;
where on mountains do you hide—
in Shambhala, or Telluride?

In what distant keeps or skies
swirl the centers of your eyes;
white unseen, at heights too high
for me to catch, or eat, or slide.

And your Winter, where is She,
poet Mistress of Tchaikovsky?
And when the Finns flop onto ice,
wouldn’t some for me be nice?

Where the crystals? where the drifts,
in what hollow blues my bliss?
And where does power click and fail
under avalanche and gale!

While the blizzard puffs the tree
in Anchorage and Nikiski,
Michigan wind just blows us bare:
the birds and I, we perch and stare.

Snowflakes, snowflakes on the stage,
bobbing tulle in a silver haze;
groove the dance, chill the Queen;
sift powdered sugar on these evergreens!

The Muse of Winter another year

If the ballet doesn't work,
there's always Ahmad Jamal
playing "Snowfall" at the Alhambra in London;
for something kind of cool, load the YouTube video,
turn the volume down a fair bit and listen to me read
my poem on podcast here with Jamal playing in the background.


William Blake's "The Tyger"



The Solitary Walker said...

Very cool indeed! Though not cool enough for you, I know. I hope your snowlust is satisfied soon. Here it's very mild this morning.

Ruth said...

Robert, after I wrote this poem last night I went out to get firewood and it was snowing a bit! Rather than be thrilled, I thought, Rats! I can't post my poem!

Brendan said...

There's a "fearful symmetry" in the wildness of the Tyger -- and in the snowflake, right. As if blizzard were its own forest. What a finely wrought ode to whiteout, so many archetypal inducts to the joys of snow bobsledding throughout. (Did you know that a Nantucket Sleighride was a euphemism for riding hellbent in a whaleboat tethered to a harpooned whale?) Here in Florida we're lucky to see a flake one sleety day every three years ago; the privilege is still all yours ... Fine work, Ruth. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Thanks, Brendan. No, I didn't know about the Nantucket sleighride. Sounds dramatic, and that's what I love about snow, I guess, the drama. Give me a snowstorm any day of the week, even by February when most sane people have had just about enough, thank you. Of course they're dangerous, and expensive, and a pain in the butt with all that shoveling and bundling up. We lived in California five years, with one trip up to Big Bear with snow, but it wasn't the same as a Michigan winter.

Leena said...

I am glad, you published poem anyway :)
We read it together my husband.
I hope you will not get after your poem too much in one day!

We have to read this poem again after four snowy months, it will slowly increase here until end of March !
Happy snowy day to you, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Leena :-) You could see I was jealous of yours. I also wondered about this: what am I bringing down upon myself? But it is raining hard, no snow, except a few flurries last night.

Anyway, I am ready with the [Finnish] hot tub!

steven said...

ruth - the cyclists of the eastern end of our continent are very very happy for the snow and iceless roads but i'll grant you the romance of snow is something i look forward to a lot a lot!!! ahmad jamal . . . oh my oh my....steven

Grandmother said...

Maybe it was the writing/incantation of your poem that brought the snow! I'm relishing the sunny 50's as cool enough in our Mediterranean clime and perfect for running. Jamal is cool. Couldn't work him as background for your reading but I had Nat King Cole on and that was niiice.

Maureen said...

I like how you bring in and combine all the different places. "... come to me/ down the spiral of this breeze" is lovely, as are "the blizzard puffs the tree", "bobbig tulle in a silver haze", and "sift powdered sugar on these evergreens". Lines like "And when the Finns flop onto ice" are vivid and fun. This is a poem I would call enchanting (to use L.L. Barkat's word).

George said...

Blake would have been very proud. Indeed, notwithstanding his virtues, he would have been undoubtedly envious of my favorite line: "And where does power click and fail under avalanche and gale." You could spend a lifetime writing poems and novels about this subject alone.

Bruce Barone said...

Wonderful. Bravo!

Cait O'Connor said...

Great poem but though I usually love snow I don't want it yet awhile.

ellen abbott said...

I know some people love snow but it's a mystery to me. Its cold and wet.

ds said...

I will have to come back in order to listen properly...You have no need to apologize to Mr. Blake (love your illustrated "Tyger"). Nearly snow-time, but rain today. That line about power sent chills, and I love the whole second stanza. Truly, Ruth, did She who made the snow make Thee? ; )

Chris G. said...

*chuckles* Something tells me Blake wouldn't have had a problem with this - you used his style, surely, but crafted a work uniquely, beautifully, all your own.

Still no significant snowfall though in old Michigan? Goodness, it had better get its act together. This is most unusual. We've already had several in Colorado - though, admittedly, Colorado being Colorado it was 60s the next day in all cases, and wiped all that pretty snow away.

Tchaikovsky's mistress will surely come soon though...

The Bug said...

Love your poem! I really don't like having to wear a coat, hat and gloves, but I find myself looking forward to the first snow. In fact, it looks like snow now! But at 43 degrees I guess we'll just have a nice cold rain. Blech!

Babs-beetle said...

The first shot is an absolutely beautiful photo! Do you use a tripod, or are your hands that steady?

Jeanie said...

Well, I'm reading backwards, which sounds as though things may have been a little bumpy. Hopefully, much improved. And, my friend, I think you are getting that snow at this very instant.Maybe a lot by tomorrow! Be careful what you ask for -- you might get it!

Louise Gallagher said...

I did what you suggested. Listened to you and Ahmad Jamal -- oh my! It was divine.

We are getting a snow storm tonight they say -- wind storm Saturday. Snow storm Wednesday which will begin with an ice storm. So very.... wintry! Would you like me to send it to you instead? I'm quite happy to do so. :)

amy@ Souldipper said...

A good snowfall covers man's messiness and brings a peaceful silence.

Duc le Chat has grown a gorgeous, thick coat this year. I keep holding my breath as we enjoy warmer-than-usual weather...the blast must be on its way.

Ruth said...

Steven, I never thought of you cyclists being happy for snow, but of course! I cringe to think of you on ice. I just discovered Ahmad Jamal, and yes, loving him.

Ruth said...

Mary, I have added a little text under the snow photo to clarify that it was not this year, but another. We did not have any snow here yesterday . . . until last night! Now there are a couple of inches on the ground; not the accumulation that the weatherman predicted, but I am happy!

50s, sunny and running: Enjoy!

Ruth said...

Maureen, thank you for your close reading of my poem, and for that L.L. Barkat word. :-)

Ruth said...

George, thank you for reading, and for your kind response to my poem. One thing I was conscious of when writing this is the sheer power of nature, and the powerlessness we feel at times in the face of it.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bruce! I was tickled that we both posted on Blake the same day.

Ruth said...

Cait, may you get the snow you want, when you want it.

Thanks for reading.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I know. Good that you live in TX.

Ruth said...

ds, thank you for your response to the poem, and your own Blake question. :-)

Ruth said...

Chris, . . . and so she did come. We had a couple of inches last night, not nearly what was predicted, but white and at least in the dark now, beautiful. I imagine you will have many beautiful snowfalls in the weeks ahead, with those glorious blue skies that follow in CO.

Ruth said...

Dana, we had cold rain for days and days, and then last night it became snow! A couple of inches on the ground, and I am most happy.

Ruth said...

Babs, I did not use a tripod for that top shot. The macro lens is great, but I usually have to take several shots to get one good one, especially in a breeze! I know there are gizmos to clip onto branches and things and stabilize them, which I haven't tried.


Ruth said...

Jeanie, thank you for reading, even backwards. It is quite a relief that my MIL is doing so much better. She is still in ICU, but improving daily.

It looks like we just got a couple of inches, not as much as predicted. But I'm happy. And Don has a snow day! Must be icy.

Ruth said...

Louise, oh thank you for trying the double listening, and liking! One of these days maybe I can record a podcast with background music, so you don't have to do the technical stuff.

Thank you for sending the white stuff my way: we received a couple of inches last night! I don't wish for you to have difficulties, or hassles or anything, or anyone else, but I love the drama and beauty and (as Steven said) romance of snow.

Ruth said...

Amy, I was just listening to a song about snow yesterday with that thought precisely. I listened to so many though, I can't remember which one it was.

And I wonder if you are holding your breath in happy expectancy, or dread . . .

hedgewitch said...

I don't think Blake would mind your sincerest form of flattery. I can feel the walking rhythms in it, too. I had enough of that up in Chicago, but I do still enjoy our occasional blizzard event(where the entire state shuts down in a helpless coma) just because it *is* occasional, and because there is indeed something dramatic and other-wordly about that visitation of white. Lovely words, Ruth.

Peter said...

You know, I was at a place pretending to be Shambhala not long ago … and no snow (maybe today). … and I understand that it’s now raining in northern Finland (Laponia)… and here we hardly need the central heating...

Somehow, (with some difficulties) I can understand your wish for snow; this in between-period may be frustrating. Anyhow, the good thing is that all this inspired you!

Arti said...

I love this poem, Ruth. Before I scrolled down for Blake's or up for your 'apology' to Blake, I stopped at this poem, drawn by its title. And I recognized right away, Ha, Clever! And O what rhymes and ideas, the perfect symmetry comes not just as geometric configuration of every snowflake, but the hybrid presence of life's conditions, as you've pointed out: terror and joy, darkness and twilight (in your last post), and all the paradoxes of life. Love the music and the podcast. I'm just thinking... again, maybe you can think of greater things with this podcasting activity: prepare your own music as you record the voice, dramatic performance revitalizing the old radio shows, ... your creative spirit has the freedom and capacity to produce wonderful works. :)

Ginnie said...

By now I know you got what you wished for! Lucky you. And that top image is FABULOUS! As is your poem...without any apology whatsoever.

Oliag said...

I did exactly what you suggested and listened to your voice speaking these words as Jamal played in the background and it was divine!

I did have a quick thought though that sometimes you have to watch out what you ask for!

Margaret said...

I love piano music! Loved the podcast! :) Maybe while you are convalescing, you can gather some of your favorites and put them on podcast and pair them with your photography (or music)..

Michigan wind just blows us bare:
the birds and I, we perch and stare.

Yes, we had a house on a hill in Petoskey (before we moved in-town). We could see Little Traverse Bay and felt it 24/7. We liked it as first, but 24/7 of wind, after two years, gets a little tedious.