I hardly ever pick up a book of poems any more. But today during the last period of class on Friday, during what we call exploratory for middle school students, during which time six students were helping process books for checking out, "Winter Poems" came through our assembly.
The cover illustration by Trina Schart Hyman caught my eye--fat snowflakes falling straight down, brightly clad children going obout the business of playing. I thought it would be silly poetry, but listen to this one, so mysterious:
"Cat, if you go outdoors you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet....
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite...
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.
Outdoors, the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore....
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!
by Elizabeth Coatsworth
That last line took me so by surprise!
Or this wonderful descriptor:
"Winter dark comes early
there's a comma of a moon
by Lilian Moore
or this one by Wallace Stevens:
"Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing,
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat in the cedar-limbs.
by Wallace Stevens
And Sara Teasdale, and Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg--many of the greats are represented by this thin volume of winter poems. So pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea, wrap yourself in a soft blanket, and open a book of winter poems. Can you feel it, hear the crunch of snow underfoot, smell the crisp air?