Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Blizzard by William Carlos Williams

This evening, another snow storm is coming our way here in New Jersey. We appear to be located on the border between "major" and "crippling" snowfall, if our local forecast is to be believed. It will be a classic Nor'easter, with the snowstorm that's currently in Chicago joining forces with the storm tracking across the south, so that we'll end up with a very strong snowstorm that includes some blizzard conditions (which requires visibility of 1/4 mile or less and winds in excess of 30 m.p.h. for a period of 3 hours or more, as it turns out).

What is more appropriate on a day like today than a poem about a blizzard by one of New Jersey's native sons?

Blizzard
by William Carlos Williams

Snow:
years of anger following
hours that float idly down —
the blizzard
drifts its weight
deeper and deeper for three days
or sixty years, eh? Then
the sun! a clutter of
yellow and blue flakes —
Hairy looking trees stand out
in long alleys
over a wild solitude.
The man turns and there —
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.


The poem is written in free verse. Given his use of the word "anger" and his time period extending to 60 years, I have to note that Williams was not restricting himself to writing about a snowstorm, but is also speaking about the accumulation of a life, and he compares looking back at his footsteps in the snow to looking back at the course of his life.

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