Poem of the Month: First Snow, Mary Oliver

QuillPenThis month’s poem comes from the inimitable Mary Oliver, from her collection American Primitive. Our abundant thanks go to Ms. Oliver for letting us see the world through her eyes…



First SnowFirst Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

–Mary Oliver ©


first snow 2Journal prompts:

  • Write about a time you experienced the special muffled peace of fresh snowfall.
  • Reflect on your relationship with silence. Do you avoid it? Crave it? Has your relationship with silence changed as you have changed?
  • From the many stunning images in this poem, choose one and use it as a starting place for a write.
  • Where do you find answers in the natural world for the “questions/ that have assailed [you] all day”?







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