The Oblivion of Snow

‘For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.’ Wallace Stevens

It started with a silent flake,
a branched crystal, not unlike
a flower or a tree, or the paper
doily cut-outs grandma used to make.

It started with a snowflake,
but soon a blanket formed,
a thick eiderdown of snow
covered snow on snow on snow.

Surprised by a pink sunset,
the wind began to ease,
but the temperature had fallen
and the landscape was hard-frozen.

The fields were a blank canvas,
a big white nothing edged
with white silhouettes of trees
and hedgerows, sculptured fantasies.

Around the frozen ponds and lakes,
secret messages snowflake-shaped,
scribbled by invisible, quiet claws,
disappeared when the snow thawed.

Kim M. Russell, 23rd February 2021

shallow focus photography of snowflake

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Beyond Meaning or The Resolution of Opposites

Laura is hosting Poetics this Tuesday. She starts with interesting quotations from C. Brooks and the Book of Common Prayer. She tells us that, as a small child, she loved the words from the Book of Common Prayer’ without quite knowing why and it was not until studying poetry when a teen that that delight in the contrary was re-invoked’ by John Donne’s ‘Burnt Ship’ and she was introduced to paradox.

Laura explains the origins and meaning of the word ‘paradox’, as well as its function, and shares examples of contradiction in poetry in H.A. Dobson’s ‘The Paradox of Time’, Robert Frost’s ‘The Gift Outright’, and Wordsworth’s ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’.

For this prompt, Laura has given us choices. I have chosen to take the last lines of Wallace Stevens’ ‘The Snow Man’ and have tried to write a poem imbued with the existential paradox implied in them.

Image by Damian McCoig on Unsplash

31 thoughts on “The Oblivion of Snow

  1. such a dainty touch to your poem Kim and a gentle inclusion of rhymes that all perfectly accord with the scene you set flake by flake.
    I particularly liked:
    “secret messages snowflake-shaped,
    scribbled by invisible, quiet claws,”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snow is by nature paradoxical – both beauty and menace, a blanket of cold, and your poem really illustrates that frozen beauty. I experienced enough of it this winter to know, I wouldn’t want it all year round!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you started with a snowflake that turned into a blanket and ended with the messages the snowflakes scratched on the ice. The blankets do make those interesting shapes of nothingness over the landscape. Beautiful and mystical, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is incredibly gorgeous, gorgeous writing, Kim! You have given fresh perspective to the lines by Wallace Stevens 😀 especially love; “a big white nothing edged with white silhouettes of trees and hedgerows, sculptured fantasies.”💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the metamorphosis in this poem, Kim. The snow changing larger into blankets and then sheets covering upon sheets. I can see both the beauty and the havoc of the snow and the landscape; it’s startling, quite stunning, and imaginative in how you delve us into the piece. Very beautifully penned! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The descriptive writing here is phenomenal. I especially love he reference to the paper cut doilies! 🙂
    Interesting to put in the words “quiet claws” as the rest of the description is more “gentle” if that makes sense? Just and excellent write. I also love the words “a thick eiderdown of snow’….the idea of a down comforter of snow…a comforter 🙂 That gentle description again as opposed to that word “claws”. I’ve read this three times…the title alone is evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lill. I thought ‘quiet claws’ would emphasise the scratch marks in the ice. All the snow has disappeared and everything is green now. We’re having a warm, sunny spell at the moment, very unusual for the end of February. We’re still in lockdown, so I won’t be able to visit my daughter for Lucas’s third birthday. I have to stay put until at least the end of May. As soon as the word is given that we can visit relatives again, I’ll be off in a flash!


    1. Thank you, Sherry. They’ve all gone now and everything is green here. I went for a walk in the unusual February sunshine yesterday and was greeted by crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils!


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