Winter has settled in here in the North Country. White landscapes and white days. February as it is meant to be.
Mornings now I have been taking our beagle, Lucy, for walks before going to work. In the pre-dawn darkness, our steps mar the untouched snow of un-shoveled sidewalks and side streets. Our tracks seem like lines of words typed across fresh sheets of new white paper.
Wallace Stevens was a not a “professional” poet. He spent his days as an insurance company executive. His “conventional” life contrasts mightily with his quite un-conventional poetry. No accident I have come to believe. Creation is born in tension.
On another wintery day, his poem “The Snow Man” seems like just the thing.
The Snow Man
Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:
One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughsOf the pine-trees crusted with snow;
I think I first read this poem on a summer day on a beach in Florida. I remember stopping at these lines and looking up at the sugar white sands in front of me and the pretty girls walking by in bikinis and thinking, my mind is as far from winter as it could ever be.
I have returned to this poem over the years and these lines. I find myself repeating them to myself this time of year often… but also on some some days when I am reminded of how time passes and how getting older you begin to think of seasons and time in different ways.