A Mind of Winter: Poems for a Snowy Season (Paperback)

Poems for a Snowy Season

By Robert Atwan (Selected by), Donald Hall (Introduction by)

Beacon Press (MA), 9780807069202, 84pp.

Publication Date: October 25, 2011



There is no better time to curl up in a comfortable chair and read than in wintertime. And winter has been a powerful muse for many of America's best loved poets. The elegant patterns of frost on a windowpane, a child on a sled, a lone fox foraging for food on a desolate landscape, the comic smile of a snowman, the sobering sight of an unkempt man huddled against the cold, or a pair of red slippers glimpsed in a shop window in a gray, windy sleet have all provided inspiration for poems that sustain and renew us.

A Mind of Winter collects thirty-two of the most moving poems on the experience of winter. Illustrated throughout with elegant period woodcuts by Thomas Nason, the poems range from the great classics-James Russell Lowell's "The First Snow Fall" and John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound"-to the more contemporary, free form, and diverse-Rafael Campo's "Begging for Change in Winter" and Gertrude Schnackenberg's "The Paperweight."

While all the poets focus on the experience of winter as their theme, each provides us with an illuminating glimpse of winter's subtle forms. Marge Piercy is grateful on New Year's Day for all she has been given; Mary Oliver observes the cruel Darwinian reality of nature; Peter Davison muses on the irony of a "snowless New England"; and Robert Frost is surprised by joy while out for a walk on a winter's day. Each reminds us, in the words of Wallace Stevens, that "one must have a mind of winter/to regard the frost and the boughs/of the pine-trees crusted with snow . . ."

Contributors include: Rosanna Warren, Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur, Angelina Weld Grimke, Amy Lowell, Charles Simic, Peter Davison, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Marge Piercy, James Merrill, and Maxine Kumin.

About the Author

Acclaimed poet Donald Hall, who contributes an original prose-poem meditation on winter as a preface to this volume, is author of thirteen volumes of poetry spanning over forty years, including Without and The Painted Bed, and many books of nonfiction, including The Pleasures of Poetry and Life Work. Robert Atwan is founding editor of The Best American Essays series; and his previous poetry anthologies include Chapters Into Verse and Divine Inspiration. Renowned American illustrator Thomas Nason has been called an artist who "captured the poetry of the New England scene as timelessly on wood and copper as Robert Frost did in words."