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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wallace Stevens: The Snow Man


File:Cat dancing in the snow-Tscherno.jpg

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

The Snow Man: Wallace Stevens, from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens

Cat dancing in snow: photo by Matthias Zirngibl, 2006


leigh tuplin said...

Thanks for sharing this Tom - excellent!

~otto~ said...

Just what I needed to read tonight. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas :)

A warm breeze from Patagonia and all the affection from my heart for you and Angelica.


George Mattingly said...

"Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is." All there is to say. A wonderful poem for the day, Tom. Thanks for saying so much with so few syllables every day for us to share. A wonderful blog. And now back to visiting relatives. . . .

Zephirine said...

There's not much joyful in the universe, it seems, but that cat has found some joy and is expressing it all over its furry self. What a heartening sight it is!

Charlie Vermont said...

Merry Christmas to all on the TC
Blog, a delightful place of being

Cold in the snow?

What does kitty know?

Something about Wallace Stevens

and how to stay even.

Anonymous said...

christmas eve (ghosts of nyc past

in the soft
cold evening of ghostly
new york
all the citizens and characters
bump and tumble 
into each other
down subways and out
store doors
feeling their
joyous anxious way 
they slip into the holy
anonymity of treasures
and pain that they find at home
or on the streets. 
in the morning the ghosts are gone again. 

TC said...

What Wallace Stevens needed for cheer, perhaps, was a warm breeze from Patagonia and a snow-dancing cat.

(Even as I say that, as if conjured, the largest and most obstreporous and ungainly of our gang of furs has clambered down over the pile of scarves that simulates my head, and thence onto the keyboard, causing a spill of "2"s, as 22222..)

I had convinced myself this wonderful cat in the photo was leaping to attempt to catch a snowflake; however the wise Lady of the Dilapidated Manor, who is never wrong, opines that cats are not so silly as that, and that someone has dangled a lure, most likely a savoury Kitty Treat, above the frame...

(It's German snow, by the way.)

Anyway, what better occasion than to say, Leigh, Otto, Lucy, George, Zeph, Charlie and Zev, you have all been brilliant sustaining friends of this humble blog, and we here in the feline igloo wish each of you the warmest and most pleasant of holidays (and the same to those christmas ghosts... why is it they seem so familiar?).

Mariana Soffer said...

Great poem you shared with us, thank for that tom.
It is really well written, amazingly so, it captures really well the scent of snow.
Happy Xmas my friend!


Beautiful poem Tom, how good to find it here on Christmas morning (!) when I looked to see what you might have writ. Ah, true, "One must have a mind of winter" (now), and now the days will be getting longer, more light (for a while at least!). . . .

Cheers to you ---


red-orange of sky on horizon above still
dark tree, silver of planet above branch
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

obscure, because where does
truth come to light

think of sun, line of light,
the top of the roof

blue-white of cloud reflected in channel,
white half moon above sunlit green ridge

gamefaced said...

have good holidays! thanks for your words!

Annie said...

I agree with Angelica, brave, beautiful and true, diese miezekatze wird geneckt! Although I may be speaking as the osmosis-drenched mutha of a 16-year-old with a mind somewhere other than winter...

This Stevens poem is full of the desire to find connection, even if it's with nothing, which is everything. This is a proposition that, as memory serves, many find strangely threatening, whether the poem's imagery evokes Stevens' barren snowscape or the high even though my arthritic bones and general orientation tend to shun the cold, I feel at home with the Snow Man. Thanks for this gift, Tom, among the many you bestow.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Daoibh,

TC said...


"... full of the desire to find connection, even if it's with nothing, which is everything."

This is a proposition which rings truer every day.

Thanks for connecting... (snow men appreciate the company).

aditya said...

Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

At 3 in the night of now, such words are such a joy to read. When you are at one with the peace. With the calm. Almost.

Tapping of the keyboard bre(a)k(e)s the silence, a little.

A joy to read this one Tom.

TC said...


As the full moon appears through clouds in the first minutes of the new decade, and in the distance there are muffled sounds of explosions that must be part of someone's celebrations, and now and then a car whooshes past, and then again the night falls silent, I believe I can hear, in these light tappings of the keys, the echo of the voice of my friend you. Almost... which is of course always much better than not at all.

Thanks as always for your poet's words, I'll come visit soon.

Julia said...

ohhhh that furry belly!! I loooove this picture!!
Said that, now I'm going to read the words as if were an adult...

Julia said...

Wonderful, thak you for that! I specially like the last verse.

Tom, Lucy lives in one of the prettiest places of Argentina.
Y conoce bien la nieve ¿no?

TC said...

When I look at this picture, Julia, all the adult disappears and for a moment I'm a child again.

"My heart leaps..." as Wordsworth once wrote.

Yes, Lucy lives in the pristine land of snows and deep lakes inhabited by mythic creatures from prehistory.

This time of year I'm sure it's very beautiful there.

(Her blog is Locos por naufragar, on the list of links here... she has many photos, poems & c. to make us almost feel we are in Patagonia...)

Julia said...

Of course I know about Lucy's blog, I've already been there thanks to yours.
That's why I know she lives in San Martín de los Andes... a beautiful place all year long (but for me, summer is the best)

Anonymous said...

Every season has its charm, Julia. Have you ever been here in San Martín? It is very nice to meet you =)

Julia said...

Sí, claro que estuve en San Martín. Aunque la última vez fue hace ya más de 15 años. Espero volver pronto.
Nice to meet you too!

TC said...

Para visitar San Martín una vez antes de que me convirtió en "la nada que es" (o "la nada que no sea"): esta es mi gran deseo!