And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

tirsdag 8. november 2016

Quietly marking the beginning of winter with a poem by Geoffrey Hill

The first snow arrived in Odense yesterday afternoon, and today I woke up to a ground dotted with fragile patches of snow that helped refract the light of a grey sun enough to take away some of the morning darkness. This first snow will not lie long, and it has already begun to recede. Snow is not as common here in Denmark as it is in my native Norway, and it is at this point unusually cold. I spoke to my local greengrocer about this temperature earlier today, and he then pointed out to me that this cold came from Norway. I took responsibility, of course.

The first day of snow and the first day of winter finds me shoulder-deep in thesis work, alternating between intense bouts of writing and slightly less intense bouts of reading. As a consequence, there is not much energy left for blogging, so I will mark the beginning of the winter very quietly, with one of the early poems by Geoffrey Hill.

In memory of Jane Fraser

When snow like sheep lay in the fold
And winds went begging at each door,
And the far hills were blue with cold,
And a cold shroud lay on the moor,

She kept the siege. And every day
We watched her brooding over death
Like a strong bird above its prey.
The room filled with the kettle's breath.

Damp curtains glued against the pane
Sealed time away. Her body froze
As if to freeze us all, and chain
Creation to a stunned repose.

She died before the world could stir.
In March the ice unloosed the brook
And water ruffled the sun's hair.
Dead cones upon the alder shook.

- Published in For the Unfallen (1959)

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