A seasonal poem

As we drove home through the dark at 4:30, the temperature gauge read 13°… so mild for a late winter’s afternoon ten days before Christmas! We had been visiting dear friends in Devon and had enjoyed a lovely roast lunch together, and now we were heading North back into Somerset.

A winter’s afternoon, but more like mid-autumn with many gold and red leaves still on the trees, wild yellow apples still hanging from branches in the hedgerows, and at home there are roses still on the little bush in the front garden… so mild, so warm… I think of winter as snowy and icy and frosty… not yet, no doubt that will come in late January and February and early March as it has been doing for the last few years.

Here is a wintry poem by Charles Reznikoff:

It had long been dark

It had long been dark, though still an hour before supper-time.
The boy stood at the window behind the curtain.
The street under the black sky was bluish white with snow.
Across the street, where the lot sloped to the pavement,
boys and girls were going down on sleds.
The boys were after him because he was a Jew.

At last his father and mother slept. He got up and dressed.
In the hall he took his sled and went out on tiptoe.
No one was in the street. The slide was worn smooth and
slippery – just right.

He laid himself on the sled and shot away. He went down only
twice.
He stood knee-deep in snow:
no one was in the street, the windows were darkened;
those near the street-lamps were ashine, but the rooms inside
were dark;
on the street were long shadows of clods of snow.
He took his sled and went back into the house.

Charles Reznikoff was born in New York of Russian Jewish parents, who had escaped from the terrors of the Tzarist regime under Alexander II; he was born in 1894 and he died in New York in 1976, at the age of eighty-two. There is an interesting article about him here:

http://modernpoetry.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/charles-reznikoff-and-objectivism/

 

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