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Some of us are bristly rather than smooth February 25, 2010

Posted by Jenny in nature, philosophy, poetry.
Tags: , ,

Last year, I shared a poem of my mother’s here.  As best as I can understand, it had to do with the black, infinite spaces between stars, the places that trouble our imaginations with their unintelligible vastness.  The places that remind us that imagination is an absolute requirement of life, not some sort of pleasant decoration.

My mother, Barbara J. Bennett

Today, I want to present another poem of my mother’s that might be particularly appropriate in this time of year when the forces of ice are fighting the forces of thawing and growing.

What I particularly enjoy about this poem is that it starts to lure us into a complacent way of viewing the landscape, then pulls the rug out from under our feet.  We are not talking about a “pretty scene” here: we are talking about difficult realities.  It also has to do with the human need to find something definite, or what philosophers would call “epistomology.” Here it is.

The Appearance of Snow

In lucid sunlight the evidence

is clear: snow has quietly

remade the meadow into a scene

of undreamed simplicity.

But seek no deep truth in the snow:

it is just a cover, a white lie.

It fell quite by chance last night,

erasing the whole known world,

but now, prickly whiskers of brittle

grass-tips stick up through the surface,

stiff reminders of the difficult world

that lies forgotten below, cloaked

by the snow’s deceit.



1. kseverny - February 25, 2010

Excellent, really enjoyable

Jenny - February 25, 2010

Thank you very much. Glad you liked it.

2. DaffodilPlanter - February 26, 2010

Yes, excellent. I remember her talking about preferring the winter landscape, saying that when all the leaves were on the hardwood trees it was “overdone”. Why don’t people of her quality live for two hundred years?

3. Jenny - February 26, 2010

DP, that remark of hers was so typical! And yet, in fact, she truly loved the spring and all the wonderful unfoldings of plant life. It was just that she always liked to go counter to expectations, just to make the rest of us think, or sometimes perhaps to make us smile!

4. Daffodil Planter - February 27, 2010

What an absolute joy to read this poem and be again in touch with my long-time friend, Barbara. Elegant enjoyment of the beauty, refusal to be lulled, “righting her boat”, so to speak, through letting the stiff grasses remind her that the world is unyielding, non-nurturing, indifferent. As she had
known it to be. But made art of it all. Janet Germane

5. Heather Vallance - February 28, 2010

Jenny, the article I promised you. I was mistaken as it was Leyds not Reitz I had in mind. It may still interest you. Heather
November 7 1897
Chicago Tribune Page 9 Volume 56 Number 311
Allen County Public Library
From the most intimate friend of Dr. Leyds, the State Secretary of the Transvaal, I hear that he is shortly to resign in order to become the envoy of his country to the Dutch of Europe. Then we shall see the curious result of the Jameson raid, the Transvaal dealing diplomatically with the Foreign Office of a foreign country, while in England her agents are received only at the colonial office. In other words, the independence of the Transvaal is admitted by every country excepting England. There is no doubt that Transvaal will make a desperate effort to secure an outlet to the sea at Delagoa Bay, and though Dr. Leyds has exercised great secrecy in his frequent visits to that port, I doubt not that he has paved the way for such a concession as will allow the Transvaal government to land military stores without observation from other countries.

6. kaslkaos - February 28, 2010

Thanks for sharing yet another evocative poem from your mother, and nestling it gently in photo illustrations and & quite the headline.

7. Jenny - February 28, 2010

I’m so glad you enjoyed it, kaslkaos. I remember how supportive you were when I put up the first poem from my mother a year ago. There is something about a meeting of minds from different places, all appreciating a particular person’s vision, that is deeply reassuring.

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