Welcoming Wonderful Winter – Part I of II
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: William Carlos Williams
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Edith Sitwell
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. It is no season in which to wander the world as if one were the wind blowing aimlessly along the streets without a place to rest, without food, and without time meaning anything to one, just as time means nothing to the wind.”
On This Date:
“The birds are moulting. If only man could moult also—his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions.” – James Lane Allen, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “A Kentucky Cardinal,” who was born 21 December 1849.
Welcoming Winter with Song: The Rolling Stones
Welcoming Winter with Prose: John Burroughs
“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.” – “The Snow-Walkers”
Welcoming Winter with Song: Fountains of Wayne
On This Date:
“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” – George Wildman Ball, American diplomat, who was born 21 December 1909.
Welcoming Winter with Song: Big Maceo Merriweather
On This Date:
Nobel Laureate: Heinrich Boll
“An artist is like a woman who can do nothing but love, and who succumbs to every stray male jackass.” – Heinrich Boll, German writer, author of “The Clown,” and recipient of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature,” who was born 21 December 1917.
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: Jeffrey Harrison
“Mailboxes in Late Winter”
It’s a motley lot. A few still stand
at attention like sentries at the ends
of their driveways, but more lean
askance as if they’d just received a blow
to the head, and in fact they’ve received
many, all winter, from jets of wet snow
shooting off the curved, tapered blade
of the plow. Some look wobbly, cocked
at oddball angles or slumping forlornly
on precariously listing posts. One box
bows steeply forward, as if in disgrace, its door
lolling sideways, unhinged. Others are dented,
battered, streaked with rust, bandaged in duct tape,
crisscrossed with clothesline or bungee cords.
A few lie abashed in remnants of the very snow
that knocked them from their perches.
Another is wedged in the crook of a tree
like a birdhouse, its post shattered nearby.
I almost feel sorry for them, worn out
by the long winter, off-kilter, not knowing
what hit them, trying to hold themselves
together, as they wait for news from spring.
Welcoming Winter with Song: Bruce Springsteen
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: John Crowe Ransom
Two evils, monstrous either one apart,
Possessed me, and were long and loath at going:
A cry of Absence, Absence, in the heart,
And in the wood the furious winter blowing.
Think not, when fire was bright upon my bricks,
And past the tight boards hardly a wind could enter,
I glowed like them, the simple burning sticks,
Far from my cause, my proper heat and center.
Better to walk forth in the frozen air
And wash my wound in the snows; that would be healing;
Because my heart would throb less painful there,
Being caked with cold, and past the smart of feeling.
And where I walked, the murderous winter blast
Would have this body bowed, these eyeballs streaming,
And though I think this heart’s blood froze not fast
It ran too small to spare one drop for dreaming.
Dear love, these fingers that had known your touch,
And tied our separate forces first together,
Were ten poor idiot fingers not worth much,
Ten frozen parsnips hanging in the weather.
Welcoming Winter with Song: Elvis Costello
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: William Shakespeare
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.
Welcoming Winter with Song: Fleet Foxes
On This Date:
“Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer and author of “The Great Gatsby,” who died 21 December 1940.
Some quotes from the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
“Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.”
“There are no second acts in American lives.”
“I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”
“Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.”
“It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.”
“In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”
“At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.”
“It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did.”
“Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.”
“For awhile after you quit Keats all other poetry seems to be only whistling or humming.”
“The faces of most American women over thirty are relief maps of petulant and bewildered unhappiness.”
“The victor belongs to the spoils.”
On This Date:
“We’ve come a long way in our thinking, but also in our moral decay. I can’t imagine Dr. King watching the ‘Real Housewives’ or ‘Jersey Shore.’” – Samuel L. Jackson, American actor and film producer, who was born 21 December 1948.
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Mignon McLaughlin
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: Michael Ryan
At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks
chatting in front of the post office,
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,
I remembered the winter we spent
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?
How lovely and strange the gangly spines
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home
each day in the dark at four o’clock
and would come into my study to kiss me
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: Emily Dickinson
“There’s a certain Slant of light”
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
On This Date:
Died 21 December 1933 – Knud Rasmussen, Danish polar explorer and anthropologist. In the words of one historian, “He has been called the ‘father of Eskimology’ and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled. He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit.”
Below – Rasmussen with his sled dogs in Greenland.
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: Dave Lucas
“Lines for Winter”
Poor muse, north wind, or any god
who blusters bleak across the lake
and sows the earth earth-deep with ice.
A hoar of fur stung across the vines:
here the leaves in full flush, here
abandoned to four and farther winds.
Bless us, any god who crabs the apples
and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen.
What whispered catastrophe, winter.
What a long night, beyond the lamplight,
the windows and the frost-ferned glass.
Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.
Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips,
bless this our miscreant psalm.
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Philip Pullman
“We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.” – “Northern Lights”
Welcoming Winter with Song: Lindsey Buckingham
Welcoming Winter with Poetry: Mark Strand
“Lines for Winter”
for Ros Krauss
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Andrew Wyeth
“I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”
Welcoming Winter with Song: Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Craig Childs
“Winter is a long, open time. The nights are as dark as the end of the world.
The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can’t help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn’t want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself.” – “The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild”
Welcoming Winter with Prose: Henry David Thoreau
“Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens.” – “Journals”
Welcoming Wonderful Winter – Part II of II