The Dead of Winter

It snowed last night.  It’s snowing now.  It will snow through the afternoon. There’s been a rhythm and repetitiveness to this winter’s weather that’s a bit like a Latin conjugation: amo, amas, amat.  Though there’s been very little to love about these past weeks of dead batteries and leaking roofs. Despite Valentine’s Day, there’s no sweet-talking February. Its language tends to be blunt and monosyllabic, composed of mostly Old- and Middle-English words of Germanic origin: sleet, ice, hail, wind, drift, slide, fall. The poem below by the late American poet Samuel Menashe is constructed almost entirely of such words. A review in the New York Times of his collected work said, “each poem reads as if it’s been handblown, filled with an exactly measured dose of Wisdom and then polished 9,000 times by the world’s most precisely folded chamois.”

The Dead of Winter
by Samuel Menashe

In my coat I sit
At the window sill
Wintering with snow
That did not melt
It fell long ago
At night, by stealth
I was where I am
When the snow began

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12 Responses to The Dead of Winter

  1. Cheryl Sullivan says:

    A lot of winter this year in New England , including in Maine where I live. It is a season of much beauty even though most are always so ready for springtime.

    I enjoyed this poem which was new to me.

  2. Barry Littmann says:

    Barry Littmann, a writer on the couch, and a keen observer of television.
    I think Samuel wrote this poem at my house. As much as snow is a bother I can’t
    help but enjoy its beauty. Brings back fond memories of childhood.

    • Liza says:

      Dear writer on the couch: it is always such a pleasure to hear from you and to get your unique perceptive (probably lying down) on the world. Thank you!

  3. “Despite Valentine’s Day, there’s no sweet-talking February.” Love this, Liza, and love the poem, too. Now, I have to go out and shovel . . .

  4. Patricia says:

    Do you think that since we haven’t had a true winter in a while, now that there is one, it is a bit of a shock? Isn’t this how winters used to be before climate change? I hope that your roof stops leaking! Love that poem by Menashe, especially the last two lines.

  5. Anders Gyllenhaal says:

    We fled our home in North Carolina (OK, it’s a kind of decaffeinated winter, but it was still cold enough) and headed south to northern Florida two weeks ago. It was like watching spring unfold a little at a time over 24 hours as we descended into the warmth. The birds multiplied and the earth thawed as we went. You don’t get that magnificent gradual arrival, but there’s something to be said for the instant gratification of leaving winter behind for a little while.

  6. Carole Hansen says:

    Loved this, Liza. Living in Jacksonville (otherwise known as southern Georgia) we lack snow, but get a bit of cold weather and harsh winds in the winter. I do miss the site of a fresh snowfall, but not when it turns to slush and mush.

    • Liza says:

      Good to hear from you, Carole. I’m afraid we’re in the slush and mush mode now — and heading into the dreaded “mud time” soon. Xxx

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