5 February 2012

Emily Dickinson, Snow, and Nottingham, England

Snow looks good from a distance, such as on a Christmas card with a robin, or a squirrel, or a stagecoach, or holly with red berries, or bells, or Dickensian carol singers, or Santa Claus, or reindeer, or any other self-deceptive image. But when it falls in your own backyard it is very different: it's cold, it's miserable, it's dangerous, and you wish you were somewhere hotter. Can anything positive come from this negative?

We took a walk from the Trent embankment, Nottingham, England, into the city and spotted a few snowmen on Wilford Grove, The Meadows.

This one's quite impressive, leaning against the wall.

And from the other side he could almost be waiting for a bus, if it weren't for the hopeless expression, the burst balloon in his mouth appearing to indicate that the party's over.

Sadly, this one seems to have been attacked. Snowmen are ephemeral, and perhaps by virtue of that fact are outsiders.

This brings me, for no blindingly obvious reason other than the train of my thoughts, to Emily Dickinson on snow, and to three of her poems:

The Snow

­­It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, –
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem, –
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, –
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.


Snow flakes

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!


A little Snow was here and there

A little Snow was here and there
Disseminated in her Hair –
Since she and I had met and played
Decade had gathered to Decade –

But Time had added not obtained
Impregnable the Rose
For summer too indelible
Too obdurate for Snows –

And just to remind me of hotter times in Massachusetts, this is a link to a blog post of mine last year on Emily Dickinson in Amherst.

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