New Year’s Poem

I was casting about for something to post here to mark the so-far quiet beginning of 2022, and at poetryfoundation.org I found this brilliant essay by northwest poet Linda Bierds about a poem by Margaret Avison. As a bonus, I learned about this book — Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems — published a while back, in 2006. I found a copy at Abe Books and ordered it.

Margaret Avison (1918-2007) is gone, but the poetry lingers on, and we can know her through it. That might give heart to all of us, laboring here in the dark.

“New Year’s Poem” by Margaret Avison. Reprinted from Always Now: The Collected Poems (in three volumes) by Margaret Avison, by permission of the Porcupine’s Quill. © The Estate of Margaret Avison, 2003.

Source: Always Now: The Collected Poems (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2003)

New Year’s Poem

The Christmas twigs crispen and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
             A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week’s party
Lies in the suety, snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
             I remember
Anne’s rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark Arcturus down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
             Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.
4 replies
  1. Janet B.
    Janet B. says:

    wow what a splendid piece, creating as it does for us that “unchill, habitable space” of gentle and just pleasure that I find I also associate with Christmas and with the turn of the New Year. This blows me away. Every movement in it is unexpected, unpredictable, yet holding and filling such a beautiful space that feels utterly familiar.

    Thanks for posting.

    Reply

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