“Rare as Georgia Snow”

Winter Weather Deep South

Last week snow fell from San Antonio to Atlanta before moving up the Eastern seaboard to a more likely spot for a winter snowfall, New England. I know my good friend Leda Schubert was thrilled to see the snow fall in Vermont, where she lives (“the center of the universe,” as she calls it.) But across the country the headlines were focusing on the South: “Snow snarls flights at world’s busiest airport,” read the headline in USA Today (and don’t you’ love a good headline…”Snow snarls flights” – isn’t that poetry?)

Snow in Atlanta put me in mind of a beautiful poem by Kevin Young. It wasn’t written for kids, though I’m hoping we can all expand our sense of what kind of poetry is appropriate for kids. Read this one through. It’s simple, direct, it looks effortless. Certainly a 10-year-old child could hear it and think about it; not all poetry for kids needs to be rambunctious. The ending is a bit of a puzzle, but not beyond pondering – and why not let poetry teach children that life is puzzling?

As simple as it looks, there’s lovely music in the way the words flow and the sounds the words make. Music – melopoeia – that’s one of the three elements that poet Ezra Pound attributed to poetry. The other two are phanopoeia (the casting of an image) and logopoeia (harder to define.) I think of logopoeia as intellect – the mind coming in to play, usually discerning meaning behind the music and the image.

In any case, here’s the perfectly-titled poem. Ditty: “A short simple song.” Remember to read it aloud, and you’ll hear the music. And just imagine: a person rare as Georgia snow! The minute the poem starts with that opening phrase, you belong to it.

 

Ditty

You, rare as Georgia
snow. Falling

hard. Quick.
Candle shadow.

The cold
spell that catches

us by surprise.
The too-early blooms,

tricked, gardenias blown about,
circling wind. Green figs.

Nothing stays. I want
to watch you walk

the hall to the cold tile
bathroom—all

night, a lifetime.

 

Kevin Young, 1970

newspoet_kevinyoung03

Poet Kevin Young

By the way, it’s Poetry Friday. Diane is hosting the round-up over at Random Noodling. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

 

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17 responses to ““Rare as Georgia Snow”

  1. It’s a love poem! That caught me by surprise. Thanks for sharing. And also for those three cool words: melopoeia, phanopoeia, and logopoeia.

    • It’s hard to be indebted to Ezra Pound when his WWII record was so puzzling. But what he has to say about poetry is so good – really, it’s fundamental to my understanding.

  2. Great poem! Caught me by surprise too. 🙂

  3. ooo, that IS lovely! Thank you, Julie. I love the enjambment. Just perfect!

  4. Yes, the poem is a love poem, though it pulls at the heart when it says “Nothing stays.” The snow will melt. The gardenia might suffer and the green figs might not ripen…I love how tentative it is, which makes the love even more moving. Knowing these things, the poet still wants to watch this person walk the hallway, still wants to believe in “a lifetime.” i sure wouldn’t mind having my name as author on that poem. Not easy to be that simple with language, rein it in and make it behave!

  5. I always learn from you, Julie. In this poem, words short, like an intake of breath and gone. Kevin Young might teach us something too about poetry. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  6. What a poem. I was not expecting that ending, but I love it. It’s heartfelt and poignant and just right.

  7. Nothing stays, so we better pay attention NOW!

  8. Good Morning, Ms. Larios, akin to another illustrator and author? This love of poetry, one cannot but see into Ezra Pound’s capacity to speak in musical tones and feelings, even though as a Jewish Christian woman his behavior during the years of the 2nd WW are troubling to many. His strength of muse comes through your writing here. And you do see poetry as a melody and song sometimes of nature and the human heart. Ms. Larios I was surprised to find that my hero Buckminster Fuller liked Ezra Pound. So, thank you for discussing the terms Pound used when composing his work. Takes the sadness of his choice and places it secondary for a time in his song. You are a find thinker and writer. Thanks, have little friends though I have been reading poetry of an older Russian chap. Music art literature in poetry. Mrs. Arthur Keith (Annette)

  9. Hi Julie. It was nice seeing your post and your name. I saw it as an opportunity to learn. I recently discovered Poetry Friday and have been starting to write more of it lately. I love Kevin Young’s poem and it is so bittersweet, no extra words. I will look for more of his work. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

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