The cold is sharp and crisp, making us seek the warmth of our cozy homes with furry blankets and hot tea. But really, we don’t want to leave the cold just yet because the frost-bitten air and blanket clean snow capture the vividness of a poet’s words. The Winter Solstice occurs today, commemorating the official shift from autumn to winter. We want to stay warm while still basking in the beauty of winter, and what better way to do so than with poetry.
To me, winter is poetry within nature: the clean snowfall, the extremities of the warmth of the home against the cold of the outside, and longer nights in darkness. This is assuming your location experiences a traditional, four-seasonal winter. Poetry, now, is indeed a white country steeped within the sleet of frost. Without further ado, here are four poetry collections to put on your list this winter.
not one girl I think
who looks on the light of the sun
like thisfrom If Not , WInter by Anne Carson
This first poetry collection begins in ancient Greece on the island of Lesbos. Translated by the genius Anne Carson, Sappho’s poetry comes to life in a gorgeous collection. If Not, Winter is layered with intimacy, vulnerability, and authenticity. Unfortunately, due to time, most of Sappho’s poetry is lost and only fragments remain (hence the title). However, this only shows how talented a poet Sappho was; only fragments may remain, but we are still captivated by her achingly beautiful and haunting words.
. . . I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.“Starlings in Winter,” from Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of
as though I had wings.
Do you ever have a poet that you never want to stop reading? Mary Oliver is that poet for me. I am completely obsessed with her writing. Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver is literally a collection about birds. From owls to swans to hummingbirds, Oliver conveys a natural peace that can only be found somewhere far from humans. The natural world inspires solitude and an in-depth study of our relationships with the greater world. To me, a natural silence is balanced on paper that only speaks about the tranquility Oliver accomplishes through her poetry.
But this is the slowed-down season“Winter Grace,” from Winter by Patricia Fargnoli
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
This next poetry collection is a surprising pick. Patricia Fargnoli’s Winter echoes Oliver’s Owls and Other Fantasies so I recommend reading them together. The theme is solitude and rebirth—out of the frost of winter, one is reborn. Fargnoli’s rhetoric is incredible and tugs at your emotions because her chosen words are so perfectly put together. She is a mature poet, and it shows in her work through sophisticated imagery that connects together; Fargnoli reflects on life, death, nature, and the peace found in loneliness.
Mostly, I hope for snow in winter and the fortitude to bear it.“The Strangers,’ from Some Say the Lark, by Jennifer Chang
This last poetry collection is heavy with the topic of grief, motherhood, and rebirth. Jennifer Chang’s Some Say the Lark is a collection that reveals how we travel through pain and grief and carry it with us after. Chang utilizes the familiar and unfamiliar to pull us into her writing. It heightens our consciousness of what happens to us and our place within the larger context of the world.
For more poetry recommendations, check out my article on poetry collections to take up your time when doing an activity like baking bread.