Wednesday, February 14, 2007
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.
from Orhan Pamuk's novel, Snow
It was like copying down a poem someone was whispering in his ear, but he gave the words on the page his full attention nevertheless. Because he'd never written a poem like this, in one flash of inspiration, without stopping, there was a corner of his mind where he doubted its worth. But as line followed line, it seemed to him that the poem was perfect in every way, which made his joyful heart beat faster. And so he carried on writing, hardly pausing at all, leaving spaces only here and there for the words he had not quite heard, until he had written thirty-four lines.
The poem was made up of the many thoughts that had come to him all at once a short while earlier: the falling snow, cemetaries, the black dog running happily around the station building, an assortment of childhood memories...He called the poem "Snow."
Much later, when he thought about how he'd written this poem, he had a vision of a snowflake; this snowflake, he decided, was his life writ small; the poem that had unlocked the meaning of his life, he now saw sitting at its center.