Poetry Friday: Snow by Kenneth Rexroth

Buffy Silverman hosts today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Buffy’s Blog .

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The very first time I saw snow fall was on holiday as a child of eight.  We had travelled by train to Kashmir, at the northernmost point of India, for our winter holidays.  I remember being woken up early one morning as our train approached the station.  Peering out of the window, I could see a sight I have now become both used to and exceedingly fond of – snow reflecting dawn’s light.   All my memories of that holiday have to do with snow and what it looked like as it fell, and as it transformed all that it fell upon.

These days, I live in a snowy landscape for four months of the year.  Although it presents all sorts of challenges and problems in this new, shepherd phase of my life, I am still enthralled with snow.  Since the farm sits on a hill, I can see snowfall approaching from a distance, and that has to be my favorite winter experience of all.  Sometimes, snowfall marches up the valley to us, sometimes it swoops down the back pasture, and sometimes it meanders over to us from the Green Mountains.  Always, I am mesmerized.

Snow by Kenneth Rexroth

Low clouds hang on the mountain.
The forest is filled with fog.
A short distance away the
Giant trees recede and grow
Dim. Two hundred paces and
They are invisible. All
Day the fog curdles and drifts.
The cries of the birds are loud.
They sound frightened and cold. Hour
By hour it grows colder.
Just before sunset the clouds
Drop down the mountainside. Long
Shreds and tatters of fog flow
Swiftly away between the
Trees. Now the valley below
Is filled with clouds like clotted
Cream and over them the sun
Sets, yellow in a sky full
Of purple feathers. After dark
A wind rises and breaks branches
From the trees and howls in the
Treetops and then suddenly
Is still. Late at night I wake
And look out of the tent. The
Clouds are rushing across the
Sky and through them is tumbling
The thin waning moon. Later
All is quiet except for
A faint whispering. I look
Out. Great flakes of wet snow are
Falling. Snowflakes are falling
Into the dark flames of the
Dying fire. In the morning the
Pine boughs are sagging with snow,
And the dogwood blossoms are
Frozen, and the tender young
Purple and citron oak leaves.

11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Snow by Kenneth Rexroth

  1. Gorgeous poem; enjoyed your description of snow approaching too (have never seen that!). I remember well my first snowfall too — I was teaching 9th graders at a private school in Wimbledon. It was a strange sensation to see those flakes fall from the sky. The students got so excited because they knew it was my first time. Of course we didn’t get any work done the rest of the class period. 🙂

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  2. I love the description of “snow reflecting dawn’s light.” We won’t have a white Christmas here this year, but I’m sure I’ll get to see plenty in the next few months! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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  3. Your description of seeing snow fall for the first time, and watching it approach in this season of your life feels like a prose poem–thanks for sharing that beauty. And Kenneth Rexroth’s of clouds dropping down the mountainside and filling the valley like clotted cream–wow!

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  4. Always so magical a moment when I can “catch” the first snowfall during daylight, our snow this year comes and goes. Right now its too quickly dissipating in a sudden sun burst, but yesterday afternoon lovely fat globs of the stuff rained down on my gardens, the streets, coated bare birch branches, and lodged in the spruce tree. Like magic!

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  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem… the poet is one I will look for. Such beauty in these words, and in the mystery and beauty of snow. I look forward to it every year. I love your first memory of snow and the idea of snow blushing at first light. Beautiful! Wishing you a beautiful holiday and a good new year.

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  6. You watch snow come in the way I watched thunderstorms from my lifeguard stand above the flat-flat Eastern Colorado plains. Watching weather. Doesn’t get much better than that!

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  7. How beautiful…your description of the first snow you saw to the way snow comes to the farm: up the valley, down the back pasture. For such a gentle look snow has, it can be brutally hard. Rexroth’s poem is lovely too. I must slow down to read it…which is what a good snow does as well. I love those dark flames of the dying fire.

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