Poetry Friday: First Snow by Mary Oliver

 Linda Baie is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance.

Snow arrived after dark yesterday.  I could hear it falling all through the night and could not wait to see what the farm and valley would look like  – this, my first winter here.  The rumble of snow plows began before dawn, alerting us to  the possibilities of the day.  By the time there was morning light, there was enough snow to blanket everything in sight: the barns, house, valley, and hills all around us.

Snow continues to fall, and the landscape seems altered, magical. Gnarled old trees, a tumbled down barn in the distance, even the road that winds down our hill, through the village, and across the valley, are winter’s changelings.  I feel as though I’m seeing all that’s loved and familiar with new, more appreciative eyes.

Winter will undoubtedly come to be experienced with less celebration as the North Country months of endlessness go by.  At the moment, however, I am reveling in first snow.

First Snow by Mary Oliver

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: First Snow by Mary Oliver

  1. I’ve loved your pictures shared, Tara, and these new today, plus Oliver always writes it just perfect, doesn’t she? I love that “white rhetoric”! Enjoy your snow all the day into the night!


  2. I can only imagine writing like Mary Oliver. I would love to hear her speak sometime. She has such a unique voice for universal experiences. That immense silence. It reminds me very much of one of the last conversations I had with my mother in the snow looking up at the stars. Of course I didn’t know how close to the last it was. But it’s been one of my special memories for a decade now.
    A lovely, lovely post, Tara. Good to see you this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is nothing quite as magical as that first snow, and Oliver captures the mystery perfectly. Enjoy the transformed landscape!


  4. Snow’s silence is truly immense, isn’t it? Oliver is spot on with this one…and everything! Interestingly enough, I was to attend the 2019 Henry David Thoreau Prize for Literary Excellence in Nature Writing that was to be awarded to Mary Oliver last evening at Concord Academy. Diane Ackerman was to accept on her behalf, but weather kept her from attending and the event was cancelled. Thank you for the dose of Mary Oliver!


  5. Ah, Mary Oliver is perfect for Friday’s snowy day. I particularly love these lines:
    glitter like castles
    of ribbons, the broad fields
    smolder with light, a passing
    creekbed lies
    heaped with shining hills

    Thanks for sharing this poem, and welcome to snow country!


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