Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Winter poetry

Christina Rossetti

As winter’s balmy freeze approaches with increasingly grim ur­gency and inevitability for the next six to seven months, some brief depictions of the ice cold season are offered.

Poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) gives a slightly humorous perspective in the following lines from Winter: My Secret:

“Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot open to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling through my hall.”

Edwin A. Robinson

Gardiner’s native son Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) conveyed the following contrasting images in his 1923 poem, New England:

“Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes,
Wonder begets an envy of all those
Who boil elsewhere with such a lyric yeast”

Robinson’s slightly younger contemporary Robert Frost (1875-1963) pulled the following long evening of November in his ironically titled Desert Places:

“Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.”

John Crowe Ransom

Southern poet John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974) wrote in his Winter Remembered of the loss of a once true love, preferring the less painful numbness of the outdoor frostbite:

“Better to walk forth in the frozen air
And wash my wound in the snows; that would be healing;
Because my heart would throb less painful there,
Being caked with cold, and past the smart of feeling.”

Will Rogers

Will Rogers (1879-1935) succinctly commented, “I was just thinking, if it really is religion with these nudist colonies, they sure must turn atheist in the wintertime.”

The footage of the Russian wilderness during winter in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago has, for me, never been surpassed, although the Coen brothers 1997 film Fargo comes awfully close.

My favorite portion of Antonio Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons has always been Winter and numerous performances of it abound on YouTube.


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