As I write this, looking outside my window on a cold, crisp morning, my mind wanders to a Shakespeare Sonnet:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
There is a golden sun illuminating the clear, blue sky. Clouds are forming, just a few in number at present.
The trees have lost their leaves, but the sunshine glimmers off the dew on the grass. Quite beautiful.
The cold in itself offers its own beauty – a freshness, an alertness. Seasons change; our interpretations of life around us changes.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
(John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America)
For many, winter is a lonely time. Percy Shelley in Ode to the West Wind reflects the hope of many:
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
When you read through ‘De-versify’, the latest collection of poems from Denny Bradbury, you discover a variety of works. One such piece highlights the link many people feel between the chill, the bleakness and their own internal sadness.
Reading the opening lines to Winter Soul you come across visual descriptions, setting the scene of the day:
Crisp clear air of deepest winter
Sky streaked so with pastel hue
Yet when you move on another two lines, the truth of the poem is brough to the fore:
Dig into my soul with icy finger
Make my heart with leaden blue
If we look back to 1781 we come across poet Robert Burns. Here we see his interpretation of winter and it’s meaning, taken from his poem Winter: A Dirge:
“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!
Loneliness and sadness are emotions frequently associated with the cold, bleak winter months – cold and bleak are words used to describe weather as well as characters.
Often, as we saw with Percy Shelley, hope is an emotion which guides people through the wintry days and nights. A.A. Milne describes quite beautifully the moment when Spring has arrived in When We Were Very Young:
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”