I had the good fortune a few years back of hearing the former U. S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan argue for the importance of clarity in poetry, a concept that would seem to go against the grain of contemporary poetics. That’s just one of the many reasons I admire Ryan, whose short, dense, powerful poems often remind me of Emily Dickinson’s. Reading a Ryan poem is like unpacking a Christmas stocking; each is loaded with treats and the joy of discovery.
Ryan’s not afraid to say what she thinks. Like her poems, though, her ideas are often more nuanced and complicated than a first reading suggests. She cited Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow” as a poem that is utterly clear on the surface, while at the same time containing a mystery. Poetry, she said, should “destabilize and then reorganize us.” Here, at the end of our “surreal” year, are two gifts filled with clarity and mystery (both involving birds) that I hope will do just that. Happy holidays!
Dust of Snow
By Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Home to Roost
By Kay Ryan
are circling and
blotting out the
day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
Now they have
the same kind
at the same speed.
Beautiful. Thanks for these at the end of a very difficult year for many . I wish you good health and peace in the New Year.
I love your writing.
Thank you, Cheryl. Wishing you all the best in the year to come! Liza
Thanks for an auspicious ending. We need the good cheer. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a New Year of peace, good health and fun. Miris
So good to hear from you, Iris. Wishing you and Ron all good things in the year ahead.
I am grateful for this post, both for Frost’s poem that I had not been aware of and for this new poet,new to me at least, whose insights on poetry in general and whose poem is fresh, well wrought, and delightful. Thank you!
Thank you for writing, Francine. I’m so happy that I was able to introduce you to Kay Ryan!
More of a visual learner, I do struggle to get the nuances of the poetry you have shared and respond with immediacy to the photos. I am trying to bring peace to a climate of fear in my heart (politically speaking). Your messages are consoling!
Good wishes for the season and wishes to all for peace overcoming political insanity!
Thank you, Claudia. How to nice to hear from you. I keep wondering if we’re going to have a poet at the Inauguration. Who would it be? Wishing you all good things in the year ahead despite the insanity.
These poems are lovely and comforting.
Thank you for sharing.
Have a festive Christmas.
Thank you, Beata. Sending you all my best wishes for a healthy and happy year ahead — with no tripping! Xxxx
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have loved Dust of Snow and had no idea of its origin. It brings tears to my eyes, but in a good way. I will re- memorize this poem and repeat it to myself in the coming weeks. Wishing wonderful things for you and your family. Merry Christmas and Happy. Holidays.
So nice to hear from you, Lorraine! “Dust of Snow” is a wonderful poem to have by heart. Wishing you all the best for the holidays — and the year ahead.
A warming thought from a writer named Frost..
It is just what times need.
Thank you and have a happy and healthy new year.
Thank you, Annette. Here’s to “the best year we can hope for!”
Beautiful images to melt snow, and hearts.
Hope the New Year brings peace and happiness to all of us, and to the world.
And you, too, Jackie. Thank you for a year full of wonderful “Connections.”