Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow: A Little Scrapbook in Art

As you have probably already learned from every news station in America, a snow storm hit New York yesterday. And, predictably, it was not the Life-Ending Worst Snowstorm in the History of the World. It was maybe five inches of snow. But I did get a snow day and a half off from school, so that was nice.
Despite the underwhelming nature of the "blizzard," it has still made my campus look like an enchanting winter wonderland. I just got back from a long day out in the cold, and just before heading back into my dorm, I walked through the woods, which were covered in a soft, silent blanket of white powdery snow. Through the bare branches above my head, I could see the blue-black cloudless night sky, speckled with shining stars and a glowing, silver half-moon. It made the biting cold, the dryness, and the runny nose a little worth it.

I've always liked the winter, because I've always liked all of the seasons. I enjoy watching them change. This year, I've been taking a poetry class for which watching the earth change is one of the skills we've been learning. And our assignment this week was to write a poem about the blizzard. I haven't got any idea what my poem's going to be like just yet, but I thought it would be fun to gather up some snow-themed art works anyway, and to create a little, digital art scrapbook about snow.

By "art scrapbook" I mean that I'm going to put together a (small) collection of my favorite poems, prose, paintings, photos, etc. that are about snow (and winter in general, in relation to snow). Keep in mind these are ones that I like, not necessarily "the best ones." I just thought I'd create the snowy mood.



Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (by Robert Frost)
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
  (Carin Olsson)

The Snow Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

  (Eiko Ojala)
("Falling Snow" by Lotte Kestner)

Snowstorm by Ariel Kalati (yeah, me; I wrote it in tenth grade)
There’s going to be a snowstorm tonight, I know there is, just because of the uncapturable calm inside during winter, away from the biting cold wind, and the flashes of golden sunlight against the green grass and the colored glass and the brown papery leaves flying in the wind, the snowflakes whispering, singing, the spring blue sky and the sunset violet-gray clouds; all this I can see from my clear doors against the main street and the gnarled naked tree across from the library.
And it goes from the on-and-off flurries of the morning, with white snowflakes and cold awakening-air flying in from the window with the burst of brilliant light behind me, and the beautiful deep evergreens remind me of the golden sunrise in the courtyard in fall, when there aren’t flurries of fairy dust to shake our laughter out of us, but only sunlight to warm our worlds.
It goes from this to dark blue afternoons in the dungeon and colors and music, outside so dark, inside so warm, howling ghostly winds rattling our world, and to afternoons in perfect brilliant cold and light, this is the very essence of winter, it is why I feel, why I love, it is the snow and it is the winter.
And I step inside to see the frost covered air through the window of books and pages and fresh new shelf-carpets.
White, white, white, white sky white wind white air white snow, and I see it all from my watching-place in the dim storycraft room, oh ever so dim against the symphony of violently, rapidly, thunderstormly flying, sea stormly flying snowflakes, whirring past me, riding the waves of violent wind that takes with it clear, new-made sunlight, illuminating everything so my heart and my mind and my soul are exposed in the clear glass window, next to their twins in brilliant colors.
And all too soon it dies, it sleeps, it drowsily drifts in wintry spirals down to the cold, shaken earth, as the world restores itself to normalcy and wellness.
And soon there is no snow at all, as though it had never been there.
But I know still there will be a snowstorm tonight, if only in my dreams and my heart and my soul.

  (Jim Salvati)

("Vuelie" from Frozen)

(Little monks having a snowball fight in Shaolin Monastery Henan, China)

The Protracted Winter (a traditional Tlingit story, recorded by John R. Swanton)
One time some boys pulled a piece of drifting seaweed out of the water on one side of their canoe and put it in again on the other. It was almost summer then, but, for having done this, winter came on again and snow was piled high in front of the houses so that people began to be in want of food. One day, however, a blue jay perched on the edge of a smoke hole, with elderberries in its mouth, and cried, "KîlnA'xe." This was the name of a neighboring town. So the people took all the cedar bark they had prepared to make houses out of and went to KîlnA'xe where they found that it was already summer and the berries were ripe. Only about their own town was it still winter. This happened just beyond the town of Wrangell.
I tell you this story to show how particular people used to be in olden times about things, for it was only a piece of seaweed that brought winter on.

  ("Monastery Graveyard" by Caspar David Friedrich)


I hope you liked these. If you want, recommend some of your own favorite artworks about snow and winter in the comments! And now I'm going to go get some rest- trudging through snow and cold all day was exhausting.
Join me Saturday to find out what my new experience this week will be.


1 comment:

  1. Love the sarcasm in the opening paragraph. Love the descriptions of the woods' walk (although, naturally, I am appalled by the fact that you walk through the woods at night, alone, and stop for contemplation. But that's just me.
    The pics/poems/ etc you added did just what you said they will "snowy mood'. Unfortunately, I could not access anything that required sound. Oh, well.
    Good post.