Monday, January 5, 2015

our hopes

To the New Year

by W.S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible


From the Poetry Foundation's bio on Merwin:
Merwin was once asked what social role a poet plays—if any—in America. He commented: “I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. I think that’s a social role, don’t you? ... We keep expressing our anger and our love, and we hope, hopelessly perhaps, that it will have some effect. But I certainly have moved beyond the despair, or the searing, dumb vision that I felt after writing The Lice; one can’t live only in despair and anger without eventually destroying the thing one is angry in defense of. The world is still here, and there are aspects of human life that are not purely destructive, and there is a need to pay attention to the things around us while they are still around us. And you know, in a way, if you don’t pay that attention, the anger is just bitterness.”

Because today is the day we return to routine, it feels as though this is the day I'll be welcoming the stillness of the new year, this is the day I'll sit with my hopes, everything possible.

While I work on my writing, while I'm making those stray resolutions, while I'm gathering up my resolve as one always must, I'm going to return to this line: One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. 

Meanwhile, if we were having tea together today. If we were having tea together I'd tell you about how we've been binge-watching Vera. She's been the perfect escape over the holidays. I've watched so many episodes I could do a fair approximation of her accent. Brenda Blethyn is wonderfully brilliant in the series. I'm sure I'll be calling everyone 'love' and 'pet' thanks to the show.

If we were having tea at my kitchen table, I'd show you the new cookbook I bought myself with a Xmas gift card: Clean Slate. I don't buy many cookbooks anymore, because, well, Pinterest. But this one has some really lovely recipes - tried one last night that everyone liked. There's no point in making resolutions involving diet, I think that's pretty much been established. But my ongoing resolution is to eat more vegetable matter. This seems reasonable.

Well, if we were having tea, I'd show you the lovely hand warmers my daughter knit me for Christmas. In the photo below, I had her put them on and model them for a photo. She also knit me a cozy cowl which I've been wearing around the house - it's been that cold.

In contradiction to my vegetable eating resolution, here's a photo of all the comfort foods in one bowl. At this time of year, it's pretty much impossible to take dinner photos, pitch dark as it is at that time of night. But for fun, I cranked the ISO to 1600 and this was the result. Not, so, so bad.

I'd tell you about the bag of mostly sunflower seeds I bought for the cold weather. We don't feed the birds much any more because the seeds bring the mice, etc. But during this week of -30 to -40 even with the windchill, it seemed kind. The snow had buried the seeds, but these clever guys knew what to do. Pretty impressive to see them getting rid of the massive tuft of snow to get to the seeds below.

Lastly, I'd tell you about the hat Chloe knit for a friend's upcoming birthday. Very sweet, don't you think? Kids these days.


  1. This is a beautiful entry into the new year. How important to remember that protest can turn to bitterness and quench that early hope...that hope needs oxygen. And thank you for the tea.

  2. Oh my gosh - SO cute! Your daughter's got a gift! xo

    1. I've showed her your work on your blog! She's trying her first pair of mittens next :)

  3. So much goodness in this post.
    "where we have come with our age
    our knowledge such as it is
    and our hopes such as they are
    invisible before us
    untouched and still possible"

    I love that.
    I also love returning to routine, how you feed the birds in the cold, your delicious looking dinner and Chloe's beautiful knitting (How cute is that hat!). And of course, all your lovely images.
    Looks like your new year is off to a nice start, full of possibility.

  4. A good note to open the year on: Clean Slate. I like it . . . That Crafty Kid still making lovely pieces, I see. LOVE that hat! A very creative household you have.
    And paying attention is such a good thing to remember. Thanks for that, and for the tea.


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