Thursday, December 26th

what’s new

Julianna Barwick, live (studio performance), Seattle, 11/22/13

“Look Into Your Own Mind”


“Crystal Lake”



reading table

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Stevens’s poems force us, as great poems always do, to live in the occasion of their language—not simply to extract a ‘meaning’ from the language. The point is not so much to understand the poems (for when we understand something, we don’t need it anymore, and we don’t read it again); the point is to inhabit the poems. By doing so, we recognize that our humanity is not constituted by our ‘mastery’ of something. It is constituted by our willingness to humble ourselves to the ‘mystery’ of something.

James Longenbach