Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!
My oh my it is cold, and white and crisp outside.
D & I knew the storm was coming, spent the day putting up our holiday decorations indoors, and cooked a big pot of potato leek soup. We have an artificial tree (very PC) some icicle lights and some tin stars for the doors. I think it all looks lovely, esp with the new snow. I have a funeral to go to today, of a dear patient of mine who died earlier in the week. Not looking forward to driving in the ice, but I really want to be there, or at least make an appearance.


The Snowman

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.

--Wallace Stevens


Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

--Robert Frost


I've never thought of it before but, looked at together, these poems are really actually very similar, aren't they? Though Frost and Stevens were very different poets, aesthetically, I think they have arrived at pretty much the same artistic-philosophical-spiritual place in these poems.


Binh around the City said...

Dear Mr. Pereira--

I took a Lit Seminar as a part of my MFA program requirement here in NYC last spring. The seminar is a survey of "Great First Books" from Wordsworth and Coleridge's "Lyrical Ballads" and Housman's "Shropshire Lad" to Eliot's "Prufrock" and Bishop's "North & South." Never heard of before, to me, were "The Hotel Wentley Poems" by John Wieners and "The Sonnets" by Ted Berrigan; I was elated to have been introduced to these fierce poets.

We also read Frost's "A Boy's Will", published in 1915 when Frost was 41, and Stevens' "Harmonium", published in 1923, when Stevens was 44.

I don't know if Frost and Stevens knew one another, surely they must've known OF each another, but I think Stevens, since his book came eight years later, did acknowledge, slyly, like a wink, the presence of Frost. All of the page #'s below refer to Stevens' "Collected," published by Vintage. Then again, I may have read too much into instances where the word "frost" is mentioned. I don't know.


"He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and umated birds,
And little of love could know."

—Robert Frost, “Wind and Window Flower” from "A Boy’s Will" (1915)

—“To regard frost and the boughs” (9, which you quote here)
—“Into the autumn weather, splashed with frost” (16)
—“The salt hung on his spirit like a frost” (29)
—“The spring came there in clinking panicles / Of half-dissolving frost” (34)
—“In a region of frost / Viewing the frost” (80)
—“…the figure of Mary, / Touched on by hoar-frost” (107)
—“Cries up for us and colder than the frost” (108)
—“And the welter of frost and the fox cries do” (110)

Peter said...

Binh: That's a fascinating reading. Really. Have you written a paper about this?

Binh around the City said...

Mr. Pereira--

Thanks for your wind-swift response. Speaking of, the winds have been WILD here in Brooklyn, and we've been getting flakes, too. These apparently affected the wireless internet connection in my 'hood. I haven't been able to get online for more than 1/2 hour before something goes awry, and I was booted offline. Ai yai yai!

But yes, I did write a response after we read Wallace's "Harmonium." It was a very loose, very fun (for me) exercise in pointing out odd intersections I noticed in Stevens' poems between his first book and other things we read, including instances of frost to which I alluded.