It’s snowing again here in New York and though I’ve certainly been thinking about food—what should we bake, what soup should we eat when we come in from sledding, what chocolate should we melt for hot cocoa and will The Cheese-Hater eat a squishy marshmallow—mostly, I’m thinking about snow. I love snow, and while I know some people are annoyed by now at the amount we’ve gotten this winter, the novelty and the peaceful hush punctuated by the scrape of shovels and the yelps of children, never get old for me.
So here, instead of some food writing, is some snow writing by Wallace Stevens. This is one of my favorite sections of a poem in existence. It came into my head some weeks ago and has been there every since, echoing as I go about my business in the white-covered world. You can find it, along with all of Stevens’s other work, in the fantastic Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, a book I never tire of. It’s one of those collections that I open to look up something specific and then wind up reading for an hour because I get sidetracked by its many marvels. The atmosphere of these lines is exactly what I’m living today, as winter shows no signs of waning even though the calendar says it should.
from “The Poems of Our Climate”
Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations—one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.