That grand old poem called Winter

That grand old poem called Winter

To celebrate the winter solstice, a few crisp quotations.  I loved Thoreau’s description of winter as an epic in blank verse, and his words are themselves a grand old poem.  Enjoy. ‘That grand old poem called Winter … What a poem!  an epic in blank...
Sign of the clime

Sign of the clime

A ready way to reckon with the weather, according to an old boy Thoreau knew.  Can’t really go wrong with this formula. Old John Nutting used to say, “when it is cold it is a sign it’s going to be warm,” and “When it’s warm...
A poet’s sister or a sister poet?

A poet’s sister or a sister poet?

In Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, you sense the extent to which she supported her brother’s writing. Some things she records become material for his poems. She also reads aloud to him, including his own compositions, and copies out his poems. But beyond...
Need some negus?

Need some negus?

A hot drink of port, sugar, lemon, and spice, named after a Colonel Francis Negus (d. 1732), who invented it.  In Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, it seems to have been used medicinally, along with broth.  A delicious sounding toddy for a miserable winter cold....
Winter-defying hawk

Winter-defying hawk

What majesty in this triologism – a hawk thriving despite a New England winter. ‘The warmest springs hardly allow me the glimpse of a frog’s heel as he settles himself in the mud, and I think I am lucky if I see one winter-defying hawk or a hardy...
Bright-tinted shrubs

Bright-tinted shrubs

Autumn alights with bright-tinted shrubs.  And yes, you need to be on the alert to perceive their full beauty. ‘A passer-by might, perhaps would, have noticed that the bright-tinted shrubs about the high shore on the sunny side were reflected in the water; but,...
Weaving a stanza

Weaving a stanza

Thoreau likens a fisherman’s weaving of a creel to creating a poem about the spring. He shows great respect for skills and care in material things and processes. ‘He was meditating a small poem in his way.  It was equal to a successful stanza whose subject...
Five for the price of one

Five for the price of one

Thoreau packs in a rich deck of similes and metaphors in this short description of the shrub oak.  For the image, I looked for something that conveyed ‘clean as the atmosphere’, but I also like ‘hardy as virtue’ and the idea of being as...
As moderate as …

As moderate as …

A measured, precise, unfussy speaker, this farmer.  I also liked the idea of his not melting the snow where he treads, as if he is himself made of this clean, cold, moderate element. ‘The farmer spoke to me, I can swear, clean, cold, moderate as the snow. He...

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