NORTH, EARLY DECEMBER

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Let me down easy

the way hints of winter
fall exquisitely today
scattering icy lacy flowers
from a cloud bouquet

flutter, waver just a bit
unhurried and unworried
to get on with it.

A deeper cold will come
but stay its harder hand
let play a little longer
the november grey indefinites

let me down easy.

The longest night is still ahead
weighs heavy in the apprehension
threatening dismay

let me go haltingly into its
frozen moonlit desolation
tempered by the touch of
something of its opposite

knowing I am anyway
to be let down, I pray

let me down easy.
.
.

51 responses »

  1. The extraordinary bel canto effects of sound and rythm do indeed let us down easy, but the logic of nihilism has a performative quality that makes it so self conscious as to be parodic. This indirectness seems to be a modern tradition crystallized by Hugh Kenner in his idea of the stoic comedian. How about a little Timor mortis conturbat me! Perhaps a tougher stoicism is needed by those in fear of final judgment.

    • “Timor mortis conturbat me”—“The fear of death disturbs me”……
      This is from the Catholic Office of the Dead, if I remember correctly, and there is a medieval tradition of “Timor mortis” poetry which usually involves the fear of going to Hell because one is an abject, unrepentant sinner…with admonishment to penance and “good works”.
      I said goodbye to all that many years ago. As the maker of this little poem I can say that its source is not fear, but the opposite of fear…..and judgement, final or otherwise, has nothing to do with it…though anyone is, of course, free to find in it what he will.

      • I took the phrase from a 16th century lyric because I quite like the lyric as a poem. It is a plain style poem. The point of my comment was to contrast your treatment of the subject with the earlier style. You have said goodbye to the Catholic tradition–and that too is the point. Your poem in its understatement — knowing I am to be let down– rather suggests some lingering attachment to some other less astringent religious tradition. Why else would one consider death a let down unless one had a vestigial hope of something happy to look forward to after death? With no reason to consider death other than the cessation of me, I won’t be let down, will I? Your exquisite lyricism quite captures the ambiguous feelings most people, I guess most, have about death.

        • You probably won’t believe me, but there is no less-astringent religious tradition lurking here, and I have finally come to the place where I don’t imagine a better (or worse!) afterlife is what this life is for…..Perhaps the phrase “let down” is fraught with more meanings than I want. At any rate, thank you for your generous attention to it, and for your comments—always an intellectual feast!

  2. This poem is very moving to me. The refrain can indeed be interperted in more than one way. ( The poem doesn’t let us down for sure ) December seems to be the metaphor for death, but also has a promise in it as the days are getting longer in the end. Your poem has a promise in it too, to me ❀

    • I’m so glad the poem doesn’t let you—especially you—down, Ina, and that you see that “touch of something opposite”….Thank you so much for coming to read and comment. I carry your heart in my heart. ❀

  3. Hello Cynthia. I’ve reread this several times now. I find it both delicate and powerful. My wife and I happen to be going to a funeral this morning (not someone close), which possibly deepens some of the colours in your poem. I think your lines will mean different things to a reader at different times β€” alway a sign of a rich poem.

    • Certainly a somber way to begin your day, John. What you say is true, I think, about the different readings at different times (as well as by different readers) and the various possible colourings. The combination of ‘delicate” with “powerful” leaves me humbled and hoping that is somewhere near the effect. Thank you.

  4. Fabulous poem Cynthia, full of feelings and emotions. I know we write for ourselves but Im sure your readers will find something personal to them in your words here. I expect here may be a few different interpretations. I loved the lines “tempered by the touch of/something of its opposite”.
    When I started to read it I thought there was a rhyming scheme going to run tnrough but it didnt. Was this intentioa.? Just curious as ever! 😊

    • Thanks,Chris (!) This poem was written initially in a strict form, so maybe that’s why you picked up on the rhyme. I do that, sometimes…..write in a form and then “unwrap” it. I don’t belabor a poem, but let it grow and modulate. So there is revision and revision but it’s more organic than editorial….though I can spend days walking around with a question like: should I say “easy”, the adjective, or “easily”, the adverb? The adverb would seem to be correct grammar, but the adjective gives it a different meaning…..now see how you’ve pushed my egghead button again! πŸ™‚

      • Love it when I press that button!! And ‘easy’, the adjective works much better in this poem, in my opinion 😊 (Ive stopped saying ‘humble opinion’! Yay!) i don’t think’humble’ is necessarily a good thing, I have always used it almost as an apology, like Im devaluing myself. x.

  5. Hi Cynthia, panoramic scene,l lived in Chicago 8 years and the coldest day of winter was Jan.First.When it gets 20-30 below Zero.December 21st,here in California might be in the 70’s.You eloquently penned the poem..Jalal

  6. For some reason this one made me think of Persephone rather than death – perhaps that’s the optimist in me. I especially loved the alliteration in the line ‘scattering icy lacy flowers. As usual a poignant and very topical poem as we approach winter even in the warmth of our lovely Austin weather. To make you jealous I have to report that we lunched outside on our deck yesterday and today I have the doors and windows open. It makes up for those 100 degree summer days!

    • It’s very gratifying to me to add Persephone to the images and feelings provoked by this poem…thanks, Jane. And now, you have succeeded mightily in your attempt to make me jealous…..we’ve already had four shovel-worthy snowstorms!

    • Hello Inese…what a coincidence! I was just over to the gallery admiring some of your latest work ( I bought a set of greeting cards —your wonderful cardinal and spruce), and here you are, posting a comment at the same time!

      Your comment interests me very much, and I am musing about it. Thank you!

  7. Cynthia, both beautiful and sad! No doubt each of us will find meaning in our own special way.

    “Writing belongs to the writer until it’s written. Once it’s written, it belongs to everybody.” – Maya Angelou

    • Hello Nomzi! I see you have been browsing today….I truly appreciate your interest, and to respond to your comment, about clarity…..I love that you find it so. Maybe being old helps! πŸ™‚

      • Hello Cynthia. It was rather late when I discovered your blog so now I will make the time to read and digest more of your poetry. Yes, about that clarity, maybe being old does help. πŸ˜€

  8. Let’s hope winter doesn’t visit us as harshly as last year, at least for all you Northern folks. Cynthia this was brilliant, I love listening to you recite your poetry it’s incredible artistry and pageantry combined – the stance,

    “the way hints of winter
    fall exquisitely today
    scattering icy lacy flowers
    from a cloud bouquet”

    is one of my all time favorites of yours. Your creativity with words is powerful and brings perfectly formed images to the mind.

    I’m curious, when you write do the words come to you with the same dance as when you record – or is this work a result of writing, erasing and a re-writing cycle? Somehow I have a feeling that there isn’t much editing going on.

    • You’ve got my. number, Mary! I never erase and re-write, and I do “speak” my poems as I’m in the process of composition, sometimes writing down several drafts…but I keep all the drafts, and just keep doing the thing over and over until it feels done….I’m glad you like those icy lacy flowers! πŸ™‚

  9. tempered by the touch of
    something of its opposite
    a nice, subtle line. I hope your winter is starting to ease. We have had a nasty, icy winter in my neck of the woods, though with mercifully little snow. Only seven weeks to spring though, right?
    Of course, I did realise this is about a bit more than weather. I have been dipping in and out of Herrick this week, so your poem brought his lines to mind:
    But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times still succeed the former.
    Rather bleak, I know – but life is not really so rigidly predictible as the weather, is it? πŸ˜„

    • Thanks for these thoughts, Andy. I used to love winter, when I was a skier. Now, being strictly an indoorswoman I can only stare at the high snowbanks all around me with resignation.
      As Mark Twain (I think) is reported to have said: Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody DOES anything about it….

  10. Great Twain quote – he has so many. I read a news story a couple of years ago about the Chinese government ‘seeding’ clouds to cause rain over drought-stricken areas, although some people thought that helped cause snow instead… no doubt they’re working on something to stop rain and snow instead of causing it. So Twain’s quote has dated, though I’m not sure it’s a good thing!

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