Marcia Strykowski

Snow-Bound

john-snow_wallpaperIt’s the first day of winter and a light layer of snow still covers the ground from New England’s last storm. Seems to me like the perfect day to think about poets and painters who have been moved by falling snow to put pen to paper. Here is a small collection of their thoughts with a special nod to Whittier.

john_greenleaf_whittier-public-domainJohn Greenleaf Whittier (December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892) was an American Quaker poet and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Frequently listed as one of the Fireside Poets, he was influenced by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Whittier is especially remembered for his anti-slavery writings and wonderful poems such as The Barefoot Boy, and in particular for his book Snow-Bound.

 

Every so often there’s a Snowbound celebration at Whittier’s childhood home in Haverhill, MA.john-whittier_birthplace_-_plaque

img_7090-2In 2010 I attended one of these special events. When deciding to blog about it this week I felt sad because all of my pictures seem to have disappeared when my computer crashed a few years back, but then my daughter mentioned she might have some. Yay, she did and thanks to her I can share them here!

While the narrative poem is read aloud, local performers reenact what it was like to be stuck inside during the three day blizzard. Whittier wrote about this storm from a true memory of his childhood. Today’s actors sit in front of the exact hearth in the very same room where Whittier played and dreamed during that long ago time and we in turn got to witness the scene firsthand. img_0033img_0036One of the highlights was a ride around the property in a horse drawn wagon.img_0044img_0045Below is a beautiful painting of how the Haverhill homestead looked during the late 1800s.

Whittier's Birthplace, by Thomas Hill 1829-1908

           Whittier’s Birthplace, by Thomas Hill 1829-1908

He later moved to Amesbury, MA. That home is also open to the public.

John Greenleaf Whittier Home in Amesbury, Massachusetts

 John Greenleaf Whittier Home in Amesbury, Massachusetts

john_greenleaf_whittier_1940_issue-2c-pdBelow is the opening of Snow-Bound (the complete poem is very long, but you can find it online with a quick google search). Click on the stamp if you’d like to see it larger.

Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Snowbound c. 1900 by John Henry Twachtman

            Snowbound c. 1900 by John Henry Twachtman

Below is another section of Snow-Bound by Whittier.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!john-snow-boundThree more writers on the topic of snow.
john-snow_at_the_lake-pb-pjohn-snow_covered_hillside_with_small_evergreensjohn-winter_landscape_boston_public_library-john-francis-murphy-1853-1921Whether you have snow or not, may your holiday season be filled with kindness, a genuine sense of well-being, and lots of fun!

You might enjoy this humorous post from two years ago when we had more than our share of snow in New England. Click here!

51 Comments

  1. Just beautiful, Marcia. Thanks for the Whittier moments. Your Feb 2015 post is amazing!

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  2. Nice post, Marcia! Merry Christmas! 🙂

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  3. Hello Marcia, Such beautiful words from John Greenleaf Whittier. I would love to read the poem in its entirety, so I will take your advice and do an online search after leaving my comment. I really enjoyed this seasonal post and laughed when I read the one from two years ago. I left a comment on it at the time, which is still absolutely true today. 2” of snow and the UK grinds to a halt. I don’t say that in a disparaging way more tongue in cheek. I don’t want change; I love crazy old England just the way it is!
    Have a wonderful Christmas time Marcia. I look forward to more of your posts in the New Year. xxx

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    • I agree, England is wonderful as is. 🙂 So happy we’re blog pals, Barbara. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, looking forward to your future posts, as well! xo

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  4. Lovely! Have a great Christmas, Marcia.

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  5. Michele

    Wonderfully New England!!

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  6. Louise Pryor

    I hate to be a Grinch about this, but I DON’T appreciate the snow–not the beauties, not the chilliness, not the inconvenience, not the danger. If I could live in New England and enjoy the attitudes, philosophies, history, and PEOPLE, without the cold, I’d like it here a lot more!
    However, happy holidays to all of you, and special envious thoughts to those of you in warm climes.

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    • Ahh, I hear you Louise! 🙂 Although a light dusting is pretty on Christmas Eve and a few other prime times, it does get old quick, especially with all the clothing layers needed just to get down to the mailbox, as well as the other valid reasons you mention. I suppose if we were all inside snowbound together with no need to leave, it might be fun, but who can stay put anymore? Stay snug and safe and see you soon!

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  7. Ashley

    This is a very beautiful post! Beautiful pictures and poems and I love the snow falling down! Merry Christmas!!

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    • Thanks so much, Ashley. I like that snow feature, too. It’s only available during December and still a surprise each year. Merry Christmas!

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  8. A lovely blog post, Marcia. I enjoy snow from inside with a cup of hot chocolate! Out here in Tucson, AZ we only see it on the mountains, and we think it’s cold if it dips below 75! lol I also loved your photos.

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    • Thank you, Lynn! Ha, cold below 75, 🙂 70-75 is just right in my book, but I hear AZ gets a LOT hotter than that. Enjoy the season and have a wonderful year ahead!

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  9. Beautiful! 🙂

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  10. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Marcia!! Snow is very pretty if you don´t have to drive in it.

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    • I did, Darlene, hope yours was merry, as well! You’re right about snow, can be pretty treacherous.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the snow quotes!

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  12. Bette Norton

    I enjoyed your wintry post very much! I love all the poets poems and quotes about snow! I especially enjoyed Kahlil Gibran’s quote: “Kindness is like snow-it beautifies everything it covers.” It was great fun to revisit your humorous post from two years ago. I would not mind having some snow on the ground only. It does make everything look very magical! I love your falling snow! Happy New Year! 🙂

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    • Yes, isn’t that a wonderful quote? That would be perfect, a light snow covering the ground, but with bare roads. Thanks, best wishes for a great new year!

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  13. mirkabreen

    So wonderful, Marcia. Just the right virtual sojourn I needed.

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  14. “A universe of sky and snow” is an apt description after a snow storm! Thanks for introducing me to Whittier. How fun that you were able to experience a Whittier re-enactment–but without the snow and cold! I enjoyed your 2015 post, too! I’m in South Dakota, so blizzards often make me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter.

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    • You’re right, much easier to get around with so little snow on the ground that day. Great to hear from South Dakota, I’m sure the weather can be quite blustery there, like in the stories of Wilder’s blizzards. 🙂

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  15. A wonderful post, Marcia, as always. The words of the poets are delicate and paint such a beautiful picture of snow. What a treat to be in Whittier’s home. Thank you!

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    • Thanks, Jennie. I like to be reminded of the beauty of snow. Especially on days like today…woke up to a winter wonderland, but now must plow through to get to work!

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      • Ugh! I feel lucky to have school vacation week. Hope to get to the Currier Museum after plowing out today. BTW I shared Jane Yolen’s wonderful words. Many thanks that she got to read it. Happy New Year to you, Marcia.

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        • Oh, fun, ❤ the Currier! I sent Jane the link via a small Facebook group and mentioned what an amazing teacher you are. In turn she gave her response. Probably others in the group are checking out your blog, as well. Enjoy the last days of your vacation and Happy New Year!

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  16. That event looks like so much fun! The only work of Whittier’s I am really familiar with is Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, so I appreciated learning more about him. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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    • It was a fun event, almost makes one feel like they are really back in the day!

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  17. I really enjoyed the old post. What fun pictures! Winter storms and being snow-bound somehow provides a bit a space from day-to-day activities and can be rejuvenating in its own way.

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    • Being snowbound certainly does make you stop crazy schedules and think about what might be more important in life. Thanks, Sheryl!

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  18. Sounds like such a fun event! Glad your daughter had some pictures since yours were lost. Definitely a great poem and pictures to start winter with here in New England. We don’t have snow at my house- but it has snowed and melted a few times already. 🙂 Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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    • Hi Stephanie, I was very glad to have the pictures, too. Always good to have more than one photographer. 🙂 We’ve got snow covering the ground today, but the streets are bare. Happy New Year!

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  19. This is so beautifully put together Marcia– love the history, your photos from the Snowbound Celebration, the other authors and illustrations. Really a beautiful post. And I’m sitting here on the closest thing we have to a snowy day– it’s been raining all afternoon (a blessing here). –And I clicked through to your Blizzard post!! What astounding photos!! New Englanders must to hearty people! loved the snow bunny! (tried to leave comment on the Blizzard post, but it wouldn’t click through– time limit?) anyway, two great posts. Made it really feel like winter here! Love your blog Marcia! xox

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    • Happy you enjoyed both posts, Rhonda. Looks like your other comment made it, too (thank you!). We haven’t had tons of snow yet this winter, knock on wood…we’ll see. Have a wonderful new year!x

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      • Thanks Marcia– always love to read what you come up with!!

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  20. Hello dear friend.
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    You are a winner of a gift from my blog (an electronic copy of one of my paintings, with your name, authorization and signature).
    To receive your gift, send me a mail message to (alozadea@gmail.com) with:
      * Your full name.
      * Your blog.
      * Your country.
      * The numbers of 3 paintings that you prefer in my blog.
    Deadline: 7/1/2017
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  21. Bill

    Wonderful blog and outstanding style and design!

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  22. Whittier´s poems are beautiful… I like how he included the winter imaginary as a theme.
    The reenating should have been great. Original and a good way to include the author´s writing in the house where he lived! 😉
    Sending best wishes, dear Marcia. I hope your 2017 is off to a good start 😀

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  23. I love the way snow can make everything seem so calm and peaceful. Lovely post! Thank you so much for the follow. I look forward to reading more from you 🙂

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    • Thanks so much Kamalini. It was a pleasure to check out your blog and return the follow!

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