Midwinter

By John Unterecker 1923–1989 John Unterecker
At dusk, a great flare of winter lightning photographed the bay:
Waves were broken scrolls.          Beyond Donegal, white mountains
hung in a narrow bas-relief frozen on sky.
 
                                                                            Later, there was sleet: trees down
on the Drumholm road; near Timoney’s farm, a frantic goose
pinned under branches.
 
                                        All night long, we spoke of loneliness,
long winter, while winter sang in the chimneys.
 
Then the sky cleared and a marvel began: The hills turned blue;
in the valley a blue cottage sent up the day’s first plume of smoke.
It gathered like a dream drenched in frost.
 
That should have been all.                           We had worn out night.
 
But single-file,  deliberate,  five heifers,  a black bull,  three calves stepped  through the
                                                                                                                                    broken fence.
They arranged themselves between the house and hedge: a kind of diagram:
a shifting pattern grazing frozen weeds.
 
Their image is with me still.               The backs of the cattle are patchy with frost blue as
                                                                                                                                     morning.

John Unterecker, "Midwinter" from Stone, published by University of Hawai’i Press. Copyright © 1977 by John Unterecker.  Reprinted by permission of Estate of John Unterecker.

Source: Stone (University of Hawai'i Press, 1977)

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Poet John Unterecker 1923–1989

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Winter, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life

Biography

Poet, editor, and scholar John Eugene Unterecker earned an MA and a PhD at Columbia University. He is the author of Stone: Poems (1977), the critical work A Reader’s Guide to W.B. Yeats (1959), and the biography Voyager: A Life of Hart Crane (1969), which was nominated for a National Book Award. Editor of the Columbia University Press American Poets series, Unterecker taught at the College of the City of New York, Columbia . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Winter, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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