Poetry Friday: First Snow ~ Mary Oliver

Someone in our classroom mentioned that he’d heard another snow storm was coming our way next week.  Instantly, a chorus of groans and moans filled the air.  It seems that even the children of the North East, with their skis and sleds, and dreams of making perfect snow forts and snow angels, have had enough of the snow.  Not so long ago, it seemed, this very same group could not wait for the first snowfall of the year.  Not so long ago, neither could I.  But here we are…  So, rather than complain, I thought I’d reach back in time to those first days of winter, when fresh fallen snow was such a delight.

First Snow ~ Mary Oliver

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.


19 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: First Snow ~ Mary Oliver

  1. Oh how I love Mary Oliver! Thank you for sharing this poem. My favorite lines:

    The silence
    is immense,
    and the heavens still hold
    a million candles, nowhere
    the familiar things

    I will think of you and hope for an early spring 🙂

  2. No matter how we yearn for another thing, it seems important also to glory in the here and now, as Oliver does so beautifully. Thanks, Tara.

  3. I read this before, but it’s always such a blessing being able to read Mary Oliver’s words again and again. She paints beauty through words like no one else can.

  4. I love Mary Oliver! My favorite lines (image) “.. it has finally ended. / The silence / is immense” I always love the muffled quiet after a fresh snowfall. Thank you for reminding me to embrace the present instead of pining for that which was and will come again.

  5. Stunning! How very wise of you to circle back. (As Eliot writes, “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”)

  6. Such a great Mary Oliver poem! So many great lines. We are enjoying an early spring here in Texas. While I’m happy to think about the loveliness of snow, I’m not sure I would enjoy a return to winter at this point!

  7. I made myself go for a walk in the early morning dark of our last little snowfall for the beautiful near-absolute silence and the sharp clean air. I wanted to imprint those on my memory to bring out and savor on a sweaty late July day come summer.

  8. I don’t want snow, but it is beautiful to read about it and see photos. Thank you for sharing this! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  9. Thank you for sharing this lovely Mary Oliver poem, Tara. As usual, her words are exactly right and capture the breathtaking beauty of a peaceful snowfall. I don’t mind the snow as much as I mind the disruption it brings. Here’s to no more snow!

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