One of the gifts of art is its power to awaken desire, enticing us to taste more deeply of the joys of life. Several weeks ago I posted a poem by Denise Levertov, where she describes the profound silence in a winter landscape, fog slowly rising up a hill. There was magic sprinkled throughout the lines. When I woke on Tuesday morning to snow, fog and a rising sun, I knew I had to grab my camera and head out to the Yellow Breeches, just a short walk from my house. Beauty was waiting, I was sure of it. And I wasn't disappointed.

Another poem has also been in my mind since I read it over at Robin Bate's website, Better Living Through Beowulf. Robin is committed to the proposition that literature can help us live better lives, whether it's giving an insight into human behavior, inspiring us with models worth imitating or beckoning us toward a hidden beauty. Reading Velvet Shoes reminded me of all the times I've walked in muffled woods, drinking deeply of the soundless space, mesmerized by white lace veils. Desire newly quickened, I found myself eagerly awaiting the first snowfall. When the snow finally came, I took a detour from my normal path to work, crossing the field to stand at river's edge. The snow muffled my shoes and my breath expanded into the silence. 

Velvet Shoes
 By Elinor Wylie

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as a white cow’s milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

The youtube is a choral rendition of Robert Frost's famous poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. You can read the whole poem here.
snow, fog and sun...
1/30/2012 10:22:06 am

"Stopping by the Woods" can also be sung to the strains of "Hernando's Hideaway." Not that you really wanted to know this.


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