Baby, it’s cold inside …

The "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is."
Wallace Stevens was a seminal, groundbreaking American modernist poet.  A contemporary of Eliot, he flipped the archetype of the wan, pale, misunderstood verbal virtuoso.  Instead, he pursued a lucrative career as a vice president of Hartford Life Insurance and yet somehow was also able to simultaneously write and publish mind-bending original verse in a distinctively American idiom.  Go figure.  Right brain, left brain, maybe. But that’s one of the hallmarks of genius in my book.
Anyway, here is one of his more popular poems to ponder and parse if you are so inclined. Stay warm, stay well.  Spring will be here before you know it, with its birds, bees and own distinctive conundra and delights.
                                          “The Snow Man”
                                           Wallace Stevens
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, “The Snow Man” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
This entry was posted in American Literature, Literature, poetry, poets and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Baby, it’s cold inside …

  1. robert okaji says:

    Damn that Stevens! The poem still blows me away, even many years after discovering it.

    Like

  2. Excellent. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye says:

    I’d never heard of that poem, and it is so appropriate for the current chill across North America. I love your optimism how near spring is. Keep warm my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Margaret! Touching what you wrote. Greetings from cold lands and, as French use to say, a bisou from the Alpes.

    Like

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