From My Commonplace Book - 54

Sayings from the Northern Ice

by William Stafford


It is people at the edge
who say things at the edge: winter is toward knowing.

Sled runners before they meet have long talk apart.
There is a pup in every litter the wolves will have.
A knife that falls points at an enemy.
Rocks in the wind know their place: down low.
Over your shoulder is God; the dying deer sees Him.

At the mouth of the long sack we fall in forever
storms brighten the spikes of the stars.

Wind that buried bear skulls north of here
and beats moth wings for help outside the door
is bringing bear skull wisdom, but do not ask the skull
too large a question before summer.
Something too dark was held in that strong bone.

Better to end with a lucky saying:

Sled runners cannot decide to join or to part.
When they decide, it is a bad day.


William Stafford (American, 1914-1993) published his first major collection
when he was forty-eight. That book won the National Book Award, and before
the end of his life, he had published more than sixty-five books of poetry and prose.
"Sayings from the Northern Ice" I found in the anthology
News of the Universe:
Poems of Twofold Consciousness chosen and introduced by Robert Bly.

The formatting of the poem has been altered for the blog. In the original
the lines of the second, fourth, and sixth stanzas are indented.

Comments

Lovely poetic piece - thanks Merry - not much good with northern climes either - a certain beauty no doubt there though.
 
Thanks for your comment, Enid.

This winter has been so mild that I'm nostalgic and have sought out poems about snow and ice.
 

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