Since I love exploring winter in all sorts of light, here is a tremendous winter poem by Hayden Carruth (1921-2008) to spread out in — to feel the contrast between the romance and beauty of winter, and the pain of existence. Carruth was an American poet from Woodbury, Connecticut. I don't know his work well, though I've known of him for years, but I mean to.
“A poem is not an expression, nor is it an object. Yet it somewhat partakes of both. What a poem is is never to be known, for which I have learned to be grateful.” ~ Hayden Carruth
by Hayden Carruth
Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and rearing.
We can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-renewing sump of corpse-flesh.
But in this valley the snow falls silently all day, and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the snow-clad trees
So graceful. In our new bed, which is big enough to seem like the north pasture almost
With our two cats, Cooker and Smudgins, lying undisturbed in the southeastern and southwestern corners,
We lie loving and warm, looking out from time to time. “Snowbound,” we say. We speak of the poet
Who lived with his young housekeeper long ago in the mountains of the western province, the kingdom
Of cruelty, where heads fell like wilted flowers and snow fell for many months
Across the pass and drifted deep in the vale. In our kitchen the maple-fire murmurs
In our stove. We eat cheese and new-made bread and jumbo Spanish olives
Which have been steeped in our special brine of jalapeños and garlic and dill and thyme.
We have a nip or two from the small inexpensive cognac that makes us smile and sigh.
For a while we close the immense index of images that is our lives—for instance,
The child on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico sitting naked in 1966 outside his family’s hut,
Covered with sores, unable to speak. But of course we see the child every day,
We hold out our hands, we touch him shyly, we make offerings to his implacability.
No, the index cannot close. And how shall we survive? We don’t and cannot and will never
Know. Beyond the horizon a great unceasing noise is undeniable. The machine,
Like an immense clanking vibrating shuddering unnameable contraption as big as a house, as big as the whole town,
May break through and lurch into our valley at any moment, at any moment.
Cheers, baby. Here’s to us. See how the curtain of snow wavers and then falls back.
*Note: This page says that Carruth's Selected Poetry was a finalist for the 1987 poetry Pulitzer, but I do not see evidence that he won for 1996, which the Poetry Foundation claims. He won the National Book Award for Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey in 1996, the volume this poem is from. NPR has this moving article upon his death in 2008. Read more about him at the Poetry Foundation.