Thursday, January 19, 2012


Today, we have had an unusually heavy snowfall for this part of the world. Unfortunately, it will disappear in a few days.  But, there it is, for now:  the world transformed.  If you live near the Arctic Circle, do you ever lose this sense of wonder?

                     Explicit Snow

First snow is never all the snows there were
Come back again, but novel in the sun
As though a newness had but just begun.

It does not fall as rain does from nowhere
Or from that cloud spinnakered on the blue,
But from a place we feel we could go to.

As a great actor steps, not from the wings,
But from the play's extension -- all he does
Is move to the seen from the mysterious --

And his performance is the first of all --
The snow falls from its implications and
Stages pure newness on the uncurtained land.

And the hill we've looked out of existence comes
Vivid in its own language; and this tree
Stands self-explained, its own soliloquy.

Ewen McCaig (editor), The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Polygon 2009).

           Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), "Mount Yuga, Bizen Province"


And so at last it has come.  Quietly.
Has quietly come and changed everything.
This, as we watch, is what we always say:
"It changes everything.  Now we can live."
And we all want to walk out into it.
Walk out into it, at night, and look up,
Thinking that this world is a simple world
While all around us it never ceases.
We can walk for miles down an empty road
And see it swirl down beneath each streetlight.
We can turn and watch our path disappear.
And it continues to quietly come.
It has come, at last, and changed everything.

sip  (Written in Tokyo a long time ago.)

                         Utagawa Hiroshige, "Snow Falling on a Town"


Mary F. C. Pratt said...

This is why open winters here in Vermont--like this one--are so creepy.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mary F. C. Pratt: I can see how that might be disconcerting. It sounds like you might be in for a late winter/early spring snowfall. When I was growing up in Minnesota, we had the famous (for Minnesotans) St. Patrick's Day blizzard (in the 1960s; I forget the year).

As always, thank you for visiting, and for your thoughts.

Rob K. said...

I have been enjoying your poetry blog for a couple of years, the art as well as the poetry. Thank you for that, and for posting another of your own beautiful poems.

Stephen Pentz said...

Rob K.: thank you very much for the kind words, both about the blog and the poems. In fact, it is I that owe you thanks for being such a loyal reader! I am always gratified (and humbled) when people find their way here and, further, continue to visit. I greatly appreciate your thoughts.

Kylie said...

Another sip--thank you!

Yes, looking backward to watch our footprints disappear is one of the great pleasures of falling snow. I wonder, though, that our pleasure isn't compromised by the disconcerting implications of seeing the evidence of our presence vanish so swiftly and silently.

Anyway, I love the mental image your poem gave me. I really appreciate it--probably more than most--as I have almost no visual memory so it's rare for descriptive writing to register with me.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you very much, Kylie. I appreciate your comments. It was one of those things that came from out of nowhere as I watched the snow in Tokyo one night. However, its deep source is probably my childhood days in Minnesota -- those memories of winters have stayed with me, not so much in the particulars, but in the overall feeling.

I agree with you about looking backward. I wasn't thinking of those implications when I wrote it, but your thought is a nice one.

Again, thank you.