“The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens … reading

Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man,” read by James Merrill.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

~ by samofthetenthousandthings on December 21, 2011.

One Response to ““The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens … reading”

  1. It is very good to be reminded how poetry sounds. The battle-line of poetry is the written or printed words on the page – and these days the formatted text on the screen. A recitation reminds us that poetry is spoken music, spoken singing, that the Aeneid begins ‘I sing of arms and of the man…’

    I wish I had the voice and the nerve to read my own material aloud (thankfully I have an agent and friends who have, and do).

    I had not known this Wallace Stevens poem until today. It is a fine one, although as an American he would not have realised that the word ‘shagged’ had such a vulgar use elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I think James Merrill renders it beautifully. I noticed the fact that the last line is the longest in the poem, and that JM’s drawing-out of that line emphasises its length; that’s probably the only aspect of the reading that I would query. In fact I would have liked to talk about it with the author and the reader, as punctuation by line-length, breathing, pausing, etc. are all aspects of ‘modernist’ free verse that interest and concern me.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Marie Marshall

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