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Howard Nemerov - A Spell before Winter

After the red leaf and the gold have gone,
Brought down by the wind, then by hammering rain
Bruised and discolored, when October's flame
Goes blue to guttering in the cusp, this land
Sinks deeper into silence, darker into shade.
There is a knowledge in the look of things,
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows.

Now I can see certain simplicities
In the darkening rust and tarnish of the time,
And say over the certain simplicities,
The running water and the standing stone,
The yellow haze of the willow and the black
Smoke of the elm, the silver, silent light
Where suddenly, readying toward nightfall,
The sumac's candelabrum darkly flames.
And I speak to you now with the land's voice,
It is the cold, wild land that says to you
A knowledge glimmers in the sleep of things:
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows. 

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Added: Apr 6 2005 | Viewed: 4122 times | Comments and analysis of A Spell before Winter by Howard Nemerov Comments (1)

A Spell before Winter - Comments and Information

Poet: Howard Nemerov
Poem: A Spell before Winter
Poem of the Day: Apr 17 2005

Comment 1 of 1, added on October 27th, 2008 at 9:52 AM.

A Spell before Winter by Harold Nemerov:

After the red leaf and the gold have gone,
Brought down by the wind, then by hammering rain
Bruised and discolored, when October's flame
Goes blue to guttering in the cusp, this land
Sinks deeper into silence, darker into shade.
(This appears to be about the change of Autumn to Winter - red and gold leaves fall, brought down by wind and hammering rains...the nights lasting longer and darker).
There is a knowledge in the look of things,
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows.
(This appears to be metaphor about our mortality...as we grow older, from our prime age to our "golden years" and finally to the edge of death's door...our mortality is symmetrical to the changing seasons. A stage of reproduction, a stage of birth and renewal, a stage of growth, and finally the stage of death).

Now I can see certain simplicities
In the darkening rust and tarnish of the time,
And say over the certain simplicities,
The running water and the standing stone,
The yellow haze of the willow and the black
Smoke of the elm, the silver, silent light
Where suddenly, readying toward nightfall,
The sumac's candelabrum darkly flames.
(This appears to be about how as we grow older, we grow more childlike and simple. So we would see things in more simple terms. The sumac candelarum appears to reference the lighting of a menorah or elaborate candlestick having multiple arms or branches. One of the desires humans have is the desire to procreate. As a family branchs out, the family tree is akin to the branching of a candelabrum. And in certain religions, candles are lit for the passing of life).
And I speak to you now with the land's voice,
It is the cold, wild land that says to you
A knowledge glimmers in the sleep of things:
The old hills hunch before the north wind blows.
(Here, the poet says he speaks with the land's voice that informs the readers that the north wind will blow (death will come for us all one day). And it is human nature to shy away/hide when death comes. The old hills are those that are about to die who will hunch



Jack from United States

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