The Snowbound City

By John Haines 1924–2011 John Haines
I believe in this stalled magnificence,
this churning chaos of traffic,
a beast with broken spine,
its hoarse voice hooded in feathers
and mist; the baffled eyes
wink amber and slowly darken.

Of men and women suddenly walking,
stumbling with little sleighs
in search of Tibetan houses —
dust from a far-off mountain
already whitens their shoulders.

When evening falls in blurred heaps,
a man losing his way among churches
and schoolyards feels under his cold hand
the stone thoughts of that city,

impassable to all but a few children
who went on into the hidden life
of caves and winter fires,
their faces glowing with disaster.

"The Snowbound City". Copyright © 1993 by John Haines. Reprinted from The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Source: The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1993)

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Poet John Haines 1924–2011

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Nature, Winter

 John  Haines

Biography

Poet and essayist John Haines was born in 1924 and studied art and painting at the National Art School, the American University, and the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art. In 1947, Haines bought a 160-acre homestead claim 80 miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, intending to pursue painting. According to Haines, when his paints froze, he turned to writing. His collections of poetry include Winter News (1966); The Stone Harp (1971); . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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