Friday, January 08, 2010

Portrait Of England As A Giant Snowflake

Image from NASAs Terra satellite on 7 January
Or a fragment of a steamed-up mirror or the lid of a frosted puddle (the 'wafer-ice' crunched by 'mass-going feet' in Kavanagh's poem): our big sister island, quilted and tucked in (20 below in some places, apparently the same as the South Pole), but getting on with it after a fashion. And snow is (almost) general all over Ireland too. And we are getting on with it, though less reliably, schools closed indefinitely, most roads ungritted, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey refusing to return from his holiday till the weekend (if the airport is open that is), the Environment Minister John Gormley not happy with his 'Minister For Snow' tag; some consider that Gormley has been made a scapegoat by Cowen, given a 'hospital pass' (no idea what that is, but I like the oddness of it). The local roads are frozen slush, to be driven dreamily slow, the car occasionally sleep-sliding towards the pavement, the steering wheel dangerously (but also pleasantly) light in my hands. Snow, as I pointed out to our son, rhymes with slow.

A little medley of winters:

Cold tonight is broad Moylurg
There is more than glass between the snow
Soundless as dots
(O loose moth world)
In the gloom of whiteness
John Donne has sunk in sleep
With all the numberless goings-on of life
Like jewelry from a grave
Between the woods and frozen lake
The snow drops its pieces of darkness
Soft as excrement, bold as roses
It is falling like leaves on the cold sea
Softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves

Each line is from a different wintery/snowy poem by a different poet (except for one, which is taken from a story that closes like a poem). Names of poems/poets below:

'A Song of Winter' by Anon (10th Century Irish trans. by Kuno Meyer)
'Snow' by Louis McNeice
'Safe in their alabaster chambers' by Emily Dickinson
'Lives' by Philip Larkin
'Elegy for John Donne' by Josef Brodsky
'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
'The Imaginary Iceberg' by Elizabeth Bishop
'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost
'The Munich Mannequins' by Sylvia Plath
'January' by R.S. Thomas
'The Snow Party' by Derek Mahon
'The Dead' by James Joyce

Image thanks to NASA/GSFC and the MODIS Rapid Response website, which allows free use of its images. MORE HERE


jenny2write said...

Fantastic image. And your title for it is half of what makes it fantastic

puthwuth said...

A hospital pass is when one of your team-mates notices a 6'10" opposition player is barrelling towards you at 20mph and helpfully decides to ping the ball to you. Primarily a rugby term.

Mark Granier said...

Thanks Jenny and Puthwuth. I had guessed that the pass was a sporting term, but rugby didn't come to mind (I am woefully ignorant in all sporting matters). So, useful to get that learned, as your man might say.