Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Wallace Stevens's 'The Snow Man': "One Must Have a Mind of Winter..."
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Winter (1902)
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow...
-Wallace Stevens, 'The Snow Man'
The line "One must have a mind of winter" has been running through my mind a good deal lately. I take this as one of the signs of midwinter (or late-winter, I hope) madness. It's true that I shouldn't have much to complain about; it's not even snowing in London right now and the evidence very much suggests that I would be ill-adapted for a winter in eastern Canada or New England. (And if I ever go to Antarctica, I will have to wrap up very well.) But still, the dark and cold are driving me a bit bonkers. I will jump for joy on the day when I leave work at 5:30 PM and it is noticeably a bit lighter outside.
'The Snow Man' is a particularly serene poem, to an almost disturbing extent. It seems to show some sort of Zen annihilation of the self at work. It is, at any rate, exceptionally evocative, and it conjures up images just like the one in the painting by Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, above.
THE SNOW MAN (Wallace Stevens)