Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memory and Imagination

My husband tells me that visiting Vermont in the winter helps him understand the New England poets better. "Robert Frost?" I ask him. "No, I was thinking of Wallace Stevens' The Snow Man. You get a sense of his search for meaning."

The Snow Man

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.

But the difference between us and the snow man is that we have memory and imagination. We know the cycles of snow, grass, flowers, fireflies and frost. The seasons change and it'll be spring again.

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