Saturday, February 11, 2006

Let it snow ...

... since it's going to anyway. In the meantime, some may wish to take another look at John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snowbound." It's really a good poem and Whittier is an unfairly neglected poet. "The Henchman," for instance, is not what you expect from him and is wonderfully charming.


  1. I have two old editions of SNOW-BOUND and the poem has occupied an important place in my life, but I would NEVER say "It's really a good poem." And I don't think I'd say the poet is unfairly neglected. Just one poet's opinion....

  2. Hi Tom,
    Well, no one is obliged to like anything, I say, and certainly no one is obliged to agree with me. But, while I don't think Whittier is a great poet or that "Snowbound" is a great poem, I still think the poem is good and that Whitter himself is better than his reputation. I do think one has to put aside one's modern sensibility to get at the charms of his work (many of them, anyway, but not "The Henchman," which surprised me the first time I discovered it in The Oxford Book of English Verse. I believe Robert Graves would have seen his White Goddess at work in that poem.) But I think there is something to be learned from Whittier about verse composition and about a sensibility that I don't think has yet entirely disappeared. Here, by the way, is an interesting piece about "Snowbound": Awaking from a Snow-Bound State

  3. Hi, Frank--it's just that if I put William Carlos Williams at the top of the page, as I am wont to do, Whittier doesn't appear on the same page, or even the next page. Given that my time is a limited commodity, and poetry is theoretically an infinite commodity, I'll push on. There are a lot of poets besides Whittier I don't have time for these days.... and a lot of poets I do.... You know how that is: one makes his choices. Oh, thanks for the link, too.