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There are SO many poems titled ‘Winter Night’…

But UD likes this one best, by Jon Lang.


Before we go there: My own winter night sky tonight – viewed from my back deck in Garrett Park, Maryland – is blackly clear, with a large, full, bright moon.  This cosmic clarity comes equipped, this evening, with very cold, very awakening, air.  Like all those winter night poets, I’m stirred, and I’m lifted, out here, off the earth, to something acutely articulate; something post-human, and post-humous…   Yet as it happens, I don’t know what the universe is saying — I only know I’m exposed, in my coatless, ghosty condition, to its voice.   Wallace Stevens hears something of this with similar recognition and confusion at the seashore: 

The water never formed to mind or voice,   
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion   
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,   
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
If you’re ever going to “break through the sensual gate,” writes Cecil Day-Lewis, it’s liable to happen facing the ocean, facing the stars; but that breakthrough, though heady, will be muddled and unnerving.  Better to return, continues Day-Lewis, to sublunary reality: “Friend, let us look to earth,/ Be stubborn, act and sleep.”
Philip Larkin, in “Sad Steps,” responds in a similar way to a sublimely moonstruck night:
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain   
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare…


Winter Night

How often we draw back, detached from the world

Like a star, and thinking the mind a pure space

Imagine our fate somehow suspended – almost

As if, like a far eye, or a small fist

Of light, we might take the whole of it, coldly, in.

But ah, what a show … for nothing really stops –

And the further we fade, the more the smallest pain

Heightens, iced to a moon’s edge. O, could we just

See! How even without us the vanishing earth

Goes on, child without mother, bearing itself

Blindly toward spring! Would we still, like gods,

Think ourselves beyond it all? Now, shrinking

Within, we only at best mimick the dead,

Who have earned with a life that richer, darker distance.

Margaret Soltan, December 22, 2018 8:04PM
Posted in: poem

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2 Responses to “There are SO many poems titled ‘Winter Night’…”

  1. Victor Frost Says:

    Greetings from Norfolk. In 1981 I set several poems by a poet of this name with titles beginning with “Winter” used adjectivally (e.g., Winter Mysteries). If this is the same poet, I would appreciate it if you could give me any information you might have about him, at the email address VFrost2468 (at) gmail (dot) com. Many thanks.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Hello: Thanks for writing – I don’t know anything about this poet, I’m afraid. I found the poem online and liked it, but went no further. Best, UD

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