Monday, 3 December 2012

Day 164: The Gift of your Left Life

What does snow say? Its silence is profound, both beautiful and haunting.

I think Carol Ann Duffy is pretty spot-on here. 

Snow - Carol Ann Duffy

Then all the dead opened their cold palms
and released the snow; slow, slant, silent,
a huge unsaying, it fell, torn language; settled,
the world to be locked, local; unseen,
fervent earthbound bees around a queen.
The river grimaced and was ice.

               Go nowhere -
thought the dead, using the snow -
but where you are, offering the flower of your breath
to the white garden, or seeds to birds
from your living hand. You cannot leave.
Tighter and tighter, the beautiful snow
holds the land in its fierce embrace.
It is like death, but it is not death; lovelier.
Cold, inconvenienced, late, what will you do now
with the gift of your left life?


  1. interesting,some great images,some other bits i don't feel anything by.the last 2 lines-so Mary Oliver!was that deliberate-as in using M O as inspiration or did it happen unconsciously.......

  2. Hi Caroline, yeah that last line reminds me of Mary Oliver's 'Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild, precious life?' - totally!

    I wouldn't think it would be deliberate...would it? They're two completely different poets and poems - Mary Oliver's is positive and enthusiastic, this one is more...bleak and warning-like.

    I love Carol Ann Duffy's poems! I love the lilting language and how the poems whisk you along. Didn't you like the rest? I think every line here has an electric buzz coming from it with all those aptly chosen words - snow makes the land 'locked, local', a 'huge unsaying'and how it is so like death.

  3. i think its possible to consciously choose/incorporate a line from a poem by someone, and then for some one else to create a poem that has a totally different direction,feel or context to it!i know i've done it,as part of wrting exercises in the past.i can't imagine she wouldnt be aware of Mary Oliver's poem and the ending of it....i guess we'll have to ask Carol Ann next time she is in the neighbourhood!

    i didnt get 'torn language', or 'a huge unsaying' myself and i thought 'its like death but not death'is not very original or profound'.but apart from that, the rest is striking and powerful!and who the heck am I criticizing a poet while not writing at all these days!!!

    1. That sounds like a good idea for a writing exercise alright Caroline!

      Oh - 'torn language' - as in the snowflakes falling, like torn words?! And the huge 'unsaying' - the snow is saying something, but at the same time saying nothing - it's so silent.

      It's great to get the feedback Caroline! Do keep sharing your views - critical or not - that's what this is for! :)


I'd love to hear what you think! To leave a comment - comment as/sign in with your Google ID if you have one, or website or blog address, or if these don't apply, sign in as Anonymous, and leave your name if you like!