Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Snow Falling And Night Falling Fast, Oh, Fast"

We have had our first snowfall, a snowfall accompanied by icy winds out of Canada and Alaska.  As always, it was lovely to watch the snow swirl down beneath the streetlights as night came on.  Being in a Robert Frost mood of late, one of his bleaker poems came to mind.  (As has often been noted  -- beginning, perhaps, with Randall Jarrell's fine essay "To the Laodiceans" in 1952 -- the notion of Frost as a grandfatherly, comforting, proverbial poet misses a great deal.)

                         Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it -- it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less --
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars -- on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

Robert Frost, A Further Range (1936).

                       Akseli Gallen-Kallela, "Imatra in Winter" (1893)   

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