Stealing another poem from the poets.org Poem-A-Day emails I get, here is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s beautiful (and wildly appropriate) poem, “The Snow Storm.”
This poem contains some lovely phrases: “the whited air,” “a tumultuous privacy of storm,” and those last four lines or so, ending with the wonderful “frolic architecture of snow.” I love the beating rhythm of hard sounds in the second stanza (“and at the gate/ the tapering turret overtops the work,“), and how Emerson seems to roll from one rhythmic device to another (alliteration, consonance, assonance, repeated “and…and,” “or…or,” and “so…so,” etc.) mimicking the “myriad-handed” style of the storm he is describing. Emerson captures so well the insane movement of snow in a blizzard, the way it whips and curls like a madman at work. And then he describes how quickly all it’s energy vanishes, and how in the morning, when the wind has died, one sees the spaces that the snow has filled, the way it has settled peacefully atop, aside, and within the structures of the normal world which a day ago were bare.
I also love that “The Snow Storm” is an invitation. Though the first stanza describes the isolation of being blizzard-bound and snowed in around a fire, the second begins with “Come see the north wind’s masonry,” as the speaker urges the reader to bundle up and step outdoors. Try reading this poem aloud. It’s gorgeous. (Sorry the photos aren’t from where I live…I really need to find my camera charger.)
The Snow Storm
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson