Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last Dream of the Snow Spirit

Moonlight Kinetic

Last Dream of the Snow Spirit

The Snow Spirit is old, psychotic and white.
Icicles hang like devil’s teeth from her soul.
When the black wind rackets in the twelve-hour night
they gnash a rattling storm till nothing’s whole.
She weights down the housetops, steers toy cars to flight
kills birds in the air with breath as dark as coal;
and yet all things old and wretched once were young.
She’s forgotten what she was, or what she’s done.

Was she a blue irreverent river sprite,
who crossed some bitter god with her defiance,
made ice to live an eternity in white?
She seems to see instead a green alliance,
herself a leaf that danced in dumb delight,
ten million sister leaves her full reliance,
woodborn in a place of sun and wind made song.
But she’s old and mad; her memory’s often wrong

Or didn’t she drip, a lanquid amber mist,
Over fields and woods at dusk, all warm wet airs,
a drink for fiddling crickets, a slippery wrist
that washed down idiot mice or hipshot mares?
Perhaps she was the ripened pale poppy’s fist
a wild wind’s daughter whose white and jagged tears
bled the sap of sweetest rest beyond all thought,
punished now for the ignorant death she brought.

Whatever she was, whatever form now lost
that was changed into her harsh new symmetry,
she was not this moving famine or this frost
that wracks the world with it’s frigid ministry.
She imagines her leafgreen soul is what it cost
to pay for this unwanted eternity.
Still she dreams as she dances the sky apart
she’s not a damned storm hag with a stonecold heart.

She can’t see her own mad eyes, her ice-boned thighs.
In  dreams she’s one snowstar with a million more.
Sisters flown like white leaves across the skies
dancing a wind ballet on a cloudpaved floor.
She dreams the sodden snow is white butterflies
with life instead of death humming in their core,
choired clouds of frozen wings who’ve just begun
to live, melting in the early winter sun.
February 2011

Ice Age #5

 This poem is written in the ottava rima form, each stanza consisting of six lines of eleven syllables rhyming alternately, ending with a differently rhymed couplet. It is irregularly metered, but conforms to the eleven syllables per line format original to the Italian, though perhaps not to the Italian pattern of stresses. English ottava rima is often written in iambic pentamenter (10 syllables)as well. 

Ottava rima is traditionally used in the writing of heroic or mock-heroic work, from Boccaccio to Lord Byron to Yeats.

Title Image: Moonlight Kinetic, by Petteri Sulonen 
Many Thanks, Petteri

Footer Image: Ice Age #5, by Alex RK

This is my entry for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry


  1. many, many great lines in this - but my favs are dancing the sky apart and the leafgreen soul...love it..

  2. Through detailed description Snow Spirit is brought to life through a spectrum of color, emotions, senses, and vivid perceptions. My favorite line is the second one, "Icicles hang like devil’s teeth from her soul" b/c after mentioning psychotic in the first line, it sets such a dark tone for the remainder of the canvas to be illuminated by colorful language. Also, love how you question her form. Fitting given this is an Ottava rima. (Props just for that!) Full of fantastic imagery. Stars, foliage, rodents...love it

  3. They say that no one is a villain to themselves. I'm not sure that's true, but if your Snow Spirit deludes herself, I think she does it with cause. I love the idea that she was once something else, something or someone fresher, essentially better than what she is now. And the way you describe her relentless wintery-ness is just bone-chilling. I don't think want her arms around me, thank you very much!

  4. ottava rima. Well, I'm impressed. A lot of great imagery and in a difficult form. I haven't tried any tricky forms in a long time. You've inspired me... I think. ;-)

  5. You have a great feel for writing this kind of (dark) poem. It's so vivid it would be interesting to hear it and see it visualized in video form.

  6. This is masterful! Truly, you've captured madness, longing, and a complete personality in the guise of a season.

  7. "All things old and wretched once were young." Tell me about it!

    You remain...fascinating.

  8. Love it Joy...the last stanza and so many others...favorite line....here is comes..."she dreams the sodden snow is white butterflies"...well done....bkm

  9. Well witchie, this goes beyond I can reach... That Snow Spirit I'll dream about tonight, but in delight
    Outsanding as always

  10. Truly impressive and masterful, Hedgewitch! I love her mad delusions that she had a previous incarnation, suggesting exactly how winter must feel. Surely a season like winter would have a bad memory. That personification, her characterization is absolutely amazing. Fine, fine writing!

  11. Beautifully constructed, hedgewitch. So many great images, but these lines:

    "Or didn’t she drip, a lanquid amber mist,
    Over fields and woods at dusk, all warm wet airs,
    a drink for fiddling crickets, a slippery wrist
    that washed down idiot mice or hipshot mares?" - just fantastic. Especially the "fiddling crickets"!

  12. *bows to a wonderful poem*

  13. Joy Ann, an ottava rima, beautifully written.
    So many wonderful lines in this. Impressive.


  14. nice hedge...she has been through quite the transformation...or if delusions of something better before and i wonder can she even see what it is she has become...shivers...excellent imagery...

  15. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. A difficult form well-executed, stunning imagery and I enjoyed the personification (spiritualization?) of snow.

  16. This really is impressive. I especially loved the "place of sun and wind made song" - beautiful! - and "dancing a wind ballet on a cloudpaved floor" - brilliant! Wonderfully rich images, strong emotions, and the rhythm of this form was perfect for the content. Fantastic writing!

  17. I have written a lot of terza rima, but never any ottava rima. I am truly intrigued by this form. Will write it...

    Loved your poem.

    missing me

  18. This is what I needed after a terrible day of being written up and nearly fired. I think I might be a Snow Spirit or I just invoke a bit o' the Frost Giants.

    Wonderful piece, thanks for sharing! Gets me all motivated to do one before boozles!

  19. your words are deep,
    your thoughts are reflective...

    talented poetry, keep it coming.

  20. This is breathtakingly beautiful.

  21. Thismakes me think that she should be in The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. Beautiful poem. And haunting.

  22. Psychotic...yes, that's a perfect word to describe ol' Snow, and any Michigander would tell you the same thing, I'm sure. You really put a face to it though, an image, in such detailed and creative description. You brought winter to life, vividly, appealing to your readers through a wide array of emotional and sensory reactions. Such imagery. Beautiful.

  23. If I have to quote what I like here, I would quote the whole poem. If I note how each image digs deep into the well of icicles, the womb of the seas and the crucible of spirits, I would have to write a book! Because there is so much in this poem that stirs the reader--I am, so much so that I'm reeling in my own snow spirit! But only you with such mastery can fit one into an ottava rima. More than great, this poem is for me. Thanks for such an experience, Joy!

  24. Whoever..whatever she was, she has been missed here, right?

  25. Leave her be and soon enough she will become something new. Not much longer can the snow faeries be dancing they will chance to rain gnomes planted in gardens grown to prepare us for the winter spirits return.

  26. The strict meter and rhyme give this the old-school clout of incantation, something muttered over a bubbling cauldron -- Yet you do a wonderful job of putting a maidens face inside this crone, as if present boreal bluster is a natural consequence of lost vernals. The pagan brutality you stiff-brush here and there reminds me now not of Plath but ex-hubby Ted Hughes, mouth full of Saxon invective: Yet her pathos is truly yours, a kindness toward necessity which says a warm human heart trumps a winter's icy blast every time. Great job. - Brendan

  27. This is such a wonderful, involved and complex poem, but that is what we have come to expect from you!

    The beginning where you declare her psychotic is an entrance into such a world of complex activity it is breathtaking!

    You are such a story teller! I love the rhythm and rhyme of this, and it is totally captivating.

    Such excellent work, and hard work to boot~! You make it look easy, and we both know that is not the situation. Imaginative, inventive and haunting.

    Lady Nyo

  28. Chilly stuff! I can't wait for the Spring thaw!

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. Thank you all. Your comments are more appreciated than I can easily say. Thanks for taking the time to work your way through this long, formal piece.

    @jenrevved: Thank you so much for your kind comment and offer. I've removed the content of your post giving your personal info out of an overactive paranoia about privacy on the web.

  31. Aahh..what a haunting story of th now bitter cold! I have been wanting to write about those icicles for over a week now... today, your poem has inspired me once again to continue with my thought! Thank you so much for that...

    I really liked the metaphor in this one, Joy... I think there are many people like this... who are now bitter, and yet they seem to have had a past that was lively and bright.. I wonder what made them who they are today..

    A very well written tale, my friend... and rhymes and adherence form was just perfection indeed!

  32. Beautiful.. so vividly sketched.. and your imagery such as in the lines..
    'dancing a wind ballet on a cloudpaved floor.' is so perfect.. thanks for sharing...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter @VerseEveryDay

  33. Rich poem...I'll take Spring. Love the image.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats