MudSong Thirteen: A change of mood


Dust of Snow
— Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.


Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), as illustrated in Trees of Indiana, by Charles Clemon Deam.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), as illustrated in Trees of Indiana, by Charles Clemon Deam.


For more of March’s MudSongs, featuring poems by Cummings, Dickinson, Neruda, and others, click here.


MudSong Two: It was snowing / And it was going to snow.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
— Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.



Caws, lilts, and the thrumming piano strings of a far-off August

Today was another beautiful day, filled with hazy blues and, once the air cleared, long, smooth clouds heralding in the gloaming. I have to come clean, though. Rather than observing any creature aside from Matt (and, fleetingly, one of the snails–Queequeg–in the terrarium), the animals that I really spent time with today were the Kaijus at the Saturday matinee.

pacific rim kaiju

What I did experience in the real live neighborhood was a crow crowing and a kid yelling back, “caw caw Caw CAW CAW CAAAW CAW!!!”

There were also the underwater pipings of bluejays and pretty adorable sights of house sparrows squatting on the thick cable just outside the kitchen window. One would fly out of sight to the roof, then another, and another. But they wouldn’t do it at once, instead keeping a choreographed cadence to their movement, with three seconds between one take off and the next. 

Because I don’t have much to say about my own observations of nature today (though I could write A Lot about the day’s chores and successful thrift shopping, as well as a a two-thumbs-up review of Pacific Rim), I figured I’d look up an August 3rd of Thoreau’s. So, here you have it: ecstatically Thoreauvian thoughts from the man himself.

young thoreau

August 3, 1852

The Hypericum sarothra appears to be out.

12 m. At the east window. –A temperate noon. I hear a cricket creak in the shade; also the sound of a distant piano. The music reminds me of imagined heroic ages; it suggests such ideas of human life and the field which the earth affords as the few noblest passages of poetry.Those few interrupted strains which reach me through the trees suggest the same thoughts and aspirations that all melody by whatever else had appreciated, had ever done. I am affected. What coloring variously fair & intense our life admits of! How a thought will mould & paint it! Impressed by some vague vision as it were, elevated into a more glorious sphere of life, we no longer know this, we can deny its existence. We say we are enchanted, perhaps. But what I am impressed by is the fact that this enchantment is no delusion. So far as truth is concerned it is a fact such as what we call our actual existence, but it is a far higher & more glorious fact. It is evidence of such a sphere, of such possibilities. It is truth & reality that affect me. A thrumming of piano strings beyond the gardens & through the elms, at length the melody steals into my being, I know not when it began to occupy me. By some fortunate coincidence of thought or circumstance I am attuned to the universe, I am fitted to hear, my being moves in a sphere of melody. my fancy and imagination are excited to an inconceivable degree. This is no longer the dull earth on which I stood – It is possible to live a grander life here; already the steed is stamping – the knights are prancing; Already our thoughts bid a proud farewell to the so called actual life & its humble glories. Now this is the verdict of a soul in health. But the soul diseased says that its own vision  life alone is true & sane.

Of course, no man was ever made so truly generous, was so expanded by any vile draught, but that he might be equally and more expanded by imbibing a saner and
wholesomer draught than ever he has swallowed. There is a wine that does not intoxicate; there is a pure juice of the grape, and unfermented. What kind of draught is that which the aspirant soul imbibes?

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