I stumbled upon a poem this morning, and it seems just right, in spite of the fact that water and plant life, in Quebec, are mostly frozen right now.
It’s by the poet Edward Rowland Sill (a discovery for me), who was born in 1841 in Windsor, Connecticut. He wrote The Hermitage and other poems (1868) and The Venus of Milo: and other poems (1883). He died in 1887.
It inspired me to look for other poetic sources of winter inspiration, which, inevitably I suppose, led me back to Shakespeare. I found Sonnet 97, somewhat sad, but also a reminder of the rhythms of life, which gives and removes in endless fluctuation.
I have included two recorded interpretations of the Shakespeare which always expands when spoken or sung. The first is a beautiful choral arrangement of Sonnet 97 (on Youtube) and the second, a video interpretation titled “Winter in Fenway” with a voice over recitation of the poem, which captures its mood perfectly (the VIMEO posting had a few blips when I watched it, but straightened itself out).
Enjoy all, and stay warm.
Edward Rowland Sill
Be still,—be still!
Midnight’s arch is broken
In thy ceaseless ripples.
Dark and cold below them
Runs the troubled water,—
Only on its bosom,
Shimmering and trembling,
Doth the glinted star-shine
Sparkle and cease.
Be still,—be still!
Boundless truth is shattered
On thy hurrying current.
Rest, with face uplifted,
Calm, serenely quiet;
Drink the deathless beauty—
Thrills of love and wonder
Sinking, shining, star-like;
Till the mirrored heaven
Hollow down within thee
Holy deeps unfathomed,
Where far thoughts go floating,
And low voices wander
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 97
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 remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lord’s 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.
The link to the Choral performance.
The link to “Winter in Fenway“