Winter - My Delinquent Palace, My Secret Place
I've come to believe rather fervently that it's just as possible to form an understanding of who we are in relation to the beautiful as it is to anything else. I also believe that winter holds as much beauty as summer, that winter is good, and that many are its intoxications.
Here is Emily Dickinson on the subject:
Winter is good - his Hoar Delights
Italic flavor yield -
To Intellects inebriate
With Summer, or the World -
Generic as a Quarry
And hearty - as a Rose -
Invited with asperity
But welcome when he goes.
Winter, as Christina Rossetti once said, is my secret. My heaven. My anguish.
In winter we softly search for delinquent palaces....
Winter Is the Best Time
by David Budbill
Winter is the best time
to find out who you are.
Quiet, contemplation time,
away from the rushing world,
cold time, dark time, holed-up
pulled-in time and space
to see that inner landscape,
that place hidden and within.
As difficult as I sometimes find winter, I have to agree with the sentiment expressed by David Budbill: "winter is the best time." (Which can be found in his book While We've Still Got Feet). I really feel the snow as blessed, the frost, too, is blessed. The light, early morning in winter, is blessed.
In winter it's possible to find those secret places, in nature, and in the deep within. Wallace Stevens has said, "Life seems glorious for a while, then it seems poisonous. But you must never lose faith in it, it is glorious after all. Only you must find the glory for yourself. Do not look for it either, except in yourself; in the secret places of your spirit and in all your hidden senses." And I think it's important to keep faith with winter, too, that gloriousness.
In a book titled, The World Split Open: Great Authors on How and Why We Write, Marilynne Robinson says, "It has seemed to me for some time that beauty, as a conscious element of experience, as a thing to be valued and explored, has gone into abeyance among us. I do not by any means wish to suggest that we suffer from any shortage of beauty, which seems to me intrinsic to experience, everywhere to be found. The pitch of a voice, the gesture of a hand, can be very beautiful. I need hardly speak of daylight, warmth, silence."
It's in winter that I need the reminder that beauty is everywhere to be found. And there it is in the particular low light, in the permutations of weather, and in the pared down trees and plant life. What does winter teach us about the experience of beauty, about grace?
It's true that there's no shortage of beauty. Some days it's easier to see than others is the thing, depending on one's state of mind. Our ability to see beauty depends on how busy we are, how worried, how open, how at peace we are.
Looking at the wintered world, I'm pulled out of myself, away. I slow down, my breathing slows.
And frost is such a beautiful occurrence. Nature's highlighter - it says, this line is important, this gesture. Look here, first.
We feel we must keep up on world politics, American politics, the local news. We should know what's happening in the world, we should know the numbers, the proportions of devastation and corruption, and we should understand the backroom deals. And we should, we should. But this is news, too, writ in italics:
Beauty surrounds us,
but usually we need to be walking
in a garden to know it.
Walk out into winter, the winter garden. Search out its delinquent palaces, its spirit and quiet. Let's perhaps take Rumi's advice who says,
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in the quietness,
Let your tongue become that flower.