If you are anywhere in the Midwest or the Eastern half of the U.S., it is freezing outside! Temperatures in NYC ranged from 2 degrees (with a wind chill of -14 this morning) to the whopping high of 16 earlier in the day. Time to stay indoors, bundle up, make some hot chocolate and read some Winter poems with your kids.
Today’s offering includes “After the Winter”, by the well-known African-American poet Claude McCay, which is a reminder of how sweet (and warm) life can be when winter is over; Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s “Ode To My Socks”, a whimsical tribute to a cherished gift of warm socks on a winter’s day; and the GCP favorite, “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, a tribute to the hardworking Dads taking care of their families in the dead of Winter. Hayden, who became the first Black member of the University of Michigan’s English Department, went on to teach at Fisk University for over 20 years.
Share these poems with your children, stay warm, and enjoy.
Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire to shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.
And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.
Claude McKay 1889-1948
Maru Mori brought me
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
I slipped my feet
as though into
with threads of
my feet were
two fish made
two long sharks
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
in this way
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
like two decrepit
of that woven
of those glowing
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as learned men
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
and each day give them
and pieces of pink melon.
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
to the spit
and eat it
I stretched out
and pulled on
and then my shoes.
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
Pablo Neruda 1904-1973
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather
made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Robert Hayden 1913-1980