Friday, December 18, 2009


Another book from our holiday box is Winter Poems selected by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

We enjoy the soundscapes found in many of the poems. At times we 'hear' the serene quiet of winter, for example, in Elinor Wylie's "Velvet Shoes."

"Let us walk in white snow
In a soundless space."

Or a single sound is heard set against a backdrop of stillness in Oliver Herford's "I Heard a Bird Sing." 

"I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing"

In other poems, winter chills us with sounds that make us glad we are inside. In Emily Dickinson's "An Awful Tempest" we feel safe to watch the world from the window:

"The creatures chuckled on the roofs
And whistled in the air,
And shook their fists, and gnashed their teeth,
And swung their frenzied hair."

While in "Cat on a Night of Snow" by Elizabeth Coatsworth, we can relate to the first narrator's wish to keep her cat indoors by the fire where the "flames are leaping and hissing low." But the Mistress cannot persuade her cat who has an instinct for the night regardless of how cold it is, for there are "things that are yet to be done."

"Outdoors, the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,/ strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore ... Open the door!" This cat is much like our Miss Mimi - an 'outdoor-cat-at-heart' kept, against her will, inside.

Our favourite poem in this collection is an excerpt from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells" for its celebration of sound. We love the two lines in which the word "bells" is repeated six times. And of course, "tintinnabulation" - what word describes the ringing of bells better than this? Just the first part of Poe's poem appears in Winter Poems. To read "The Bells" visit -

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Susan at

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