‘One of the great sentences of all time…’

We hadn’t lost winter after all. World needs it to keep itself in balance and we need it because culturally the imagery of winter is bound up with ideas of folklore, memory and the past. So before the thaw sets in, I have an urge to draw attention to The Snow Man, a haunting poem by Wallace Stevens.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens

If you would like to see a video of Prof Al Filreis discussing this at the University of Pennsylvania here is the link: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/multimedia/tv/reruns/watch/75939

It is he who called this poem one of the greatest sentences of all time, quoting a book by Stanley Fish on How to Write a Sentence. http://www.slate.com/content/slate/blogs/browbeat/2011/01/24/stanley_fish_s_top_five_sentences.html

And, for the record, here are some of my Dartmoor pictures, taken yesterday, Jan 24th

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About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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3 Responses to ‘One of the great sentences of all time…’

  1. E.E. Nobbs says:

    FANTASTIC post & great subject line! Becky – love how you bring everything together – you, Dartmoor, Stevens, Filreis & Winter. I love that poem by Stevens – it’s one of the few poems I’ve tried to memorize…must give it another go …my brain cells resist memorization 🙂

  2. jinkspots says:

    Lovely pics! And the sentence left me breathless – in many ways.

  3. Julie-ann Rowell says:

    Wonderful poem, thanks for sharing it, and great pictures too!

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