Songs of Winter

Blizzard January 1996 Hell’s Kitchen’s Ninth Avenue, NYC

Great winter poems include Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Can you think of others?

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

The Window

A storm blew in last night and knocked out
the electricity. When I looked
through the window, the trees were translucent

Read more of “The Window” by Raymond Carver from Ultramarine. © Vintage, 1986. 

In Praise of Craziness, of a Certain Kind
by Mary Oliver
On cold evenings
my grandmother,
with ownership of half her mind-
the other half having flown back to Bohemia-
spread newspapers over the porch floor
so, she said, the garden ants could crawl beneath,
as under a blanket, and keep warm,
and what shall I wish for, for myself,
but, being so struck by the lightning of years,
to be like her with what is left, that loving.


by Kevin Hart

Some days
the snow has taken me in
to know the time of snow, to live
inside a world so quiet

i​ts music
is all a shimmering. Some evenings
when quite alone
I turn off every light

and watch the snow
enjoy the dark, moving lushly
through spiky air,
finding more time

in time
than when I stretch myself
and am
my father’s father. Oh yes,

there is
a sparkling choir, there surely is,
and dark ice air
through which we fall.

Sheep in the Winter Night
by Tom Hennen
Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought
of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian
religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.


15 thoughts on “Songs of Winter

  1. I know many of Frost’s poems by heart, like your link, “Whose woods are these I think I know…” But the poems you share remind me of Eowyn Ivy’s, “The Snow Child.” She was so young when she wrote it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He wrote some amazing poems like “The Ballad of Nat Turner.” “Those Winter Sundays” is his most famous. Detroit-born into poverty, later a student of Auden’s, strange combination!


      • I have his Collected Poems on the shelf next to me. I bought it having read ‘Those Winter Sundays’ on Poetry Foundation. I hadn’t realised he had been influenced by Auden – but it’s there in this poem, its powerful succinctness,

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post, Mary. You’ve shared the work of some of my favorite poets, and introduced me to ones I want to read further. All of them take small details and create a picture in my mind that almost feels like a memory, something familiar and relatable. I can feel the presence of winter as I listen to the rain outside my window.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another beautiful collection. I love the line “trees were translucent”—it really invokes the spirit of winter to me. While we don’t get snow, we’ve had more rain this year than I can ever remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s also The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens – a chilling poem indeed.

    I will never forget when I memorized Stopping By Woods to recite in elementary school and I was so nervous I announced as being by “Jack Frost.” It was so embarrassing I never wanted to speak in public (fortunately I got over that eventually).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s