Monday, October 19, 2009

IV - Winter

It's a season associated with lack: of life, warmth and light, but living in a land of farmers for so long taught me this - that the winter cold and precipitation is as crucial for the land as the heat of summer.

A winter of the soul need not be a season of discontent - fie on Shakespeare! - but a time of quietude and waiting, essential for healing and growth. One cannot hear it, cannot see it but one has to have faith - in the things unseen - that under the frozen ground, the flowers of Spring lie waiting for warmth and birth.

In our culture of instant gratification, the idea of waiting is now alien. It is therefore humbling for us to be made to wait gently through winter, to know that one cannot hurry Spring, or force the sun and moon out of their courses. More than it teaches us patience, it teaches us our place: that we are not the be all and end all, that Spring will take her own sweet time to show herself and finally, that waiting can build faith, patience, hope and love.

Just the one poem today - oh, easily the best poem I've read all year - the way it's been constructed, every stanza aching into the next is just beautiful. It isn't hopeful and it wasn't written by a hopeful man. But unlike the confessional poets of later years, with Wallace Stevens, one can only guess at what kind of secret misery could drain his world of all hope and meaning.

The Snow Man

By 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.

But in the end, we are all waiting - not for spring - but for this:

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever

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