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Thursday 9 January 2014

Thomas Hardy: Snow in the Suburbs


White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) in snow storm: photo by Steve Byland, 14 December 2013

........Every branch big with it,
........Bent every twig with it;
......Every fork like a white web-foot;
......Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
....The palings are glued together like a wall,
....And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.
........A sparrow enters the tree,
........Whereon immediately
......A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
......Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
..........And overturns him,
..........And near inurns him,
........And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.
........The steps are a blanched slope,
........Up which, with feeble hope,
........A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
..........And we take him in.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928): Snow in the Suburbs, from Human Shows, Far Phantasies, Songs and Trifles, 1925

black cat, white snow: photo by wikkanman, 26 January 2013

Song Sparrow in snow, Lost Lagoon, Vancouver, British Columbia: photo by Valerie Sauve, 20 December 2013

Winter Weirder Land: photo by David Cory, 8 January 2011

Winter Weirder Land: photo by David Cory, 8 January 2011

Winter Weirder Land: photo by David Cory, 8 January 2011

Winter Weirder Land: photo by David Cory, 8 January 2011

Tree and snow: photo by David Cory, 2 January 2010

Winter Weirder Land: photo by David Cory, 8 January 2011

White-throated Sparrow in snow: photo by The Nature Nook, 9 March 2009


Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Yes... beautiful: And we take him in.

TC said...

Oh, isn't that ending lovely, Red?

Hardy had that reputation of curmudgeon always hanging round his neck, but in the poems, any time a bird or cat enters the picture, the true compassionate nature of the old coot shines out.

ACravan said...

overturns him,
..........And near inurns him,

This is just great. I think that Hardy has clearly claimed the last word on Snow in the Suburbs.

The last several days we've mostly had weather on our minds here. It's just been that cold and for the last two nights Jane has had to sleep in another room because of the drafts in hers, which has a northern exposure.

Having had the pleasure of this great beauty (a relief from struggling with Blogger over the last two days), I'm going to try to get a little more sleep before the miniature Huskies summon us in one hour and fifteen minutes and the day's action begins. Curtis

Nin Andrews said...

Yes, beautiful. I love the photos of birds, too. This is weather for huskies, mini or not.

tpw said...

Wonderful poem. He puts you right there, right in it, which is hard to do.

TC said...

I love those too, and felt that too.

Which was not hard to do!

Mose23 said...

I read this poem to Karen when we were doing our best to keep the cold and damp out all tucked up.

The poem's as lean as the cat. And beautiful.

TC said...

Yes, it's really a wonder -- starts out with the trademark Hardy awkwardness, then gradually gets that curious one-off of a stanza rolling; and finally all the careful pattern-work kicks in, with the beautifully modulated five-syllable close; I hear all five syllables as speech-stressed, each carrying its own weight in feeling.

The assimilation into things, or in-feeling, more remarkable to me each time I gratefully return to the work.

Unknown said...

I have read all of Thomas Hardy's novels and I am only now beginning to study his poetry. It is, of course, wonderful