So near to paradise

A month since my last post. Too busy, and too cold, to do more than agree with Robert Frost's “A Winter Eden.” Winter hours are short. Keep warm, my friends.

A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.

It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead,
And last year's berries shining scarlet red.

It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feast
On some wild apple-tree's young tender bark,
What well may prove the year's high girdle mark.
So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather-hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o'clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life's while to wake and sport.

The knuckled shadows of the western wind

The winter solstice has passed, and today is one of those Canberra days of rare and perfect beauty.  Ali has a lovely poem this week by Amy Carmichael, better known as a missionary but a dab hand at poetry too. Given that I'm looking at bare hills and rich colours instead of snowy wastes, I chose an Australian, Thomas Shapcott, and a poem not strictly solstic; instead, "Winter Westerlies."   

The knuckled shadows of the western wind
strike and stumble on our little hill
and leave a mark as visible and chill
as broken glass in all the air – you mind
your fingers on such mornings! Strong, unkind,
the winter vandal tweaks and worries till
he makes the country quick as razors; still
he cuffs, and all the land is roused and shined.

On days like these, these are the cleared-eyed days,
that wind is rogue, is brave, to slap the back
and snap the lock and strike and break and crack
the lazy comfortable town all ways
at once. And when, his three days done, he dies,
the whole town settles deep again, and sighs.