Tag: poems

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Member Post

 

One of my early childhood memories was going to bed in early summer with the windows open and hearing other children playing until it was very dark. Other than a complete set of World Book Encyclopedias, we had few children books, but one was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, with the cover […]

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National Poetry Month – Ricochet Challenge

 

April is National Poetry Month here in the U.S. I haven’t seen any mention here yet of that subject, so I would like to issue a Ricochet poetry challenge. Write a poem on any subject you would like and in any form. That is all there is to the challenge. You can post it here or in a separate thread if you think it deserves one.

Now, some might argue that the world has too much bad poetry already. But in defense of bad poetry, it sometimes leads to better poetry from the writer in the future. I’ve been writing poetry for more than 40 years, and when I started, it was all bad. Now, just most of mine is bad. Or in the words of my old friend Dave Steinke: