Talkin' 'Bout a Winter Wonderland

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  WINTER QUARTER CLASSES BEGIN JANUARY 7, 2013

This cold season we're celebrating the magic of winter poetry. Check back often -- we're adding new poems regularly!

Today's Poem:
A Visit From St. Nicholas
Clement C. Moore / Henry Livingston, Jr. 1822

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; 
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; 
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap, 
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap, 
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, 
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, 
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. 
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow 
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, 
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, 
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, 
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. 
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, 
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! 
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen! 
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! 
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

A Visit from St. Nicholas, probably the best-known holiday poem in the United States, was written in 1822 by New Yorker Clement C. Moore, (or perhaps Henry Livingston, Jr.) though it was not until 1844 that the poet acknowledged his work. Many of our holiday traditions, (Santa's bag, girth, and chimney entrance, the delivery of presents on Christmas Eve, the focus of the holiday on children, and many others) were popularized by this poem.

To learn more about this classic poem, click here.

Snowmen
Agha Shahid Ali, 1987

My ancestor, a man
of Himalayan snow,
came to Kashmir from Samarkand,
carrying a bag
of whale bones:
heirlooms from sea funerals.
His skeleton
carved from glaciers, his breath
arctic,
he froze women in his embrace.
His wife thawed into stony water,
her old age a clear
evaporation. 

This heirloom,
his skeleton under my skin, passed
from son to grandson,
generations of snowmen on my back.
They tap every year on my window,
their voices hushed to ice. 

 No, they won’t let me out of winter,
and I’ve promised myself,
even if I’m the last snowman,
that I’ll ride into spring
on their melting shoulders.

Born in 1949 and raised in India, Agha Shahid Ali taught in his native country and, after moving there, in the United States. Deeply conscious of his heritage, both new and old, Ali's poems pose "questions concerning love, death and loneliness; myth, memory and history; location, language and form." (from Credo Reference)

To learn more about Ali's life and poetry, click here.

Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden, 1975

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When
the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who haddriven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden, one of the foremost African American poets, was born in 1913. Hayden's inspiration came from "black popular culture, . . . religion, . . . [and] the folkways of the black community. . . . In dealing with these varied materials, [he] demonstrated mastery . . . consistently matching form to theme." (from Credo Reference) A former Poet Laureate of the United States, Hayden quipped that he was “a poet who teaches to earn a living so that he can write a poem or two now and then.”

To learn more about Hayden's life and poetry, click here.

Moonlight Sestina
Shaindel Beers, 2009

Something in me changed that night there with you,
surrounded by snow, wading through moonlight,
lost in a dreamland too pure to be real,
inebriated with your charm, your touch,
praying it wasn't infatuation
needing it to be more than that for once.

We labeled it a lapse that happened once --
why build dreams together of me and you?
Safer to call it infatuation --
blame it on Christmas lights, stars, and moonlight,
deny the unearthly glow of our touch --
than to take a chance at something much more real

because magic should never transcend "real."
It's much more romantic to have a "once"
than to let what we shared cool to the touch
like countless others before me and you
who didn't have sense to blame moonlight
for drowning them in infatuation.

I don't accede to infatuation
as the verdict; I think it could be real --
just inspired by Vermont snow in moonlight
(though we decided it was just a "once")
and I'll not think that way again of you
and promise not to dream about your touch

though now I recoil from another's touch
and am ill from lack of "infatuation,"
certain the only antidote is you.
I wish we'd had the nerve to make it real,
to say without regret those words which once
uttered, we retracted from the moonlight

because what kind of witness is moonlight
that we should care that it saw my hand touch
your cheek for a fleeting second, just once,
and linger, held fast by infatuation,
wanting to be that snowflake? -- something real
and pure and innocent and close to you.

Now, when I see moonlight, I think of you,
wondering if our "once" could have been real
or my wits just "touched" by infatuation.

BMCC instructor Shaindel Beers has won numerous awards for her poetry and is considered by many a rising star in the poetry world. Her first collection of poetry, A Brief History of Time, was named as one of the "Three Great Oregon Books for the Summer" at PowellsBooks.blog and is available in the BMCC Library.

To learn more about Beers' life and poetry, click here for her official website.

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The Snow Man
Wallace Stevens, 1923

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' writings showcase his bipolar view of the human experience: "an effort to reconcile the product of his imagination with fundamental reality, and . . . his disbelief in the possibility of any such reconciliation." (from Credo Reference) Born in 1879, this American essayist, playwright, lawyer, and businessman was as complex and multifaceted as his poetry.

To learn more about Stevens' life and poetry, click here.

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost, 1923

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Born in San Francisoco in 1874, Robert Frost remains one of the best-loved American poets. His "deceptively simple works . . . [exploring] the relationships between individuals and between people and nature" (from Credo Reference) are classics that mask the deep introspection and sagacity of this four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

To learn more about Frost's life and poetry, click here.

Lines for Winter
Mark Strand, 1979

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself --
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

Contemporary American poet Mark Strand was born in Canada in 1934. His poems are noted for their "simple, starkly elegant diction; . . .  relaxed free verse, often shaped into tercets and quatrains; . . . natural imagery full of chiaroscuro; and flares of surrealistic vision." (from Credo Reference) He is a former Poet Laureate of the United States and has won many awards for his poems.

To learn more about Strand's life and poetry, click here.

SONNET 97
William Shakespeare, 1609

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness every where!
And yet this time removed was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

William Shakespeare, probably the best-known and most celebrated English playwright and poet to emerge from the European Renaissance,  was born in 1564. In addition to writing some of the world's best-known plays, Shakespeare also was a master of the the English (sometimes called "Shakespearean") Sonnet form of poetry. He wrote over 140 poems in this style, which were compiled and published in 1609.

To learn more about Shakespeare's life, click here.

 

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Charlie (not verified):

What's up with your website's layout? I'm using Maxthon to browse your site and the whole layout is messed up, though it works fine when I use Firefox.

Lots of project managers who are interested in improving their career think of getting the PMP certification.PM PrepCast review. Passing the PMP test is the only way to become a certified project manager, thankfully you can use the PM PrepCast to train for the PMP exam easily.!

ejensen:

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BMCC Library
erik.jensen@bluecc.edu

Guest (not verified):

Thank you so much for old favorites and new discoveries!

ejensen:

You're very welcome, and thanks for checking us out!

Be sure to check back -- we'll be posting more of the new and the old in the coming days!
 

Erik Jensen
Assistant to the Librarian
BMCC Library

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