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Winter Remembered

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Two evils, monstrous either one apart,
Possessed me, and were long and loath at going:   
A cry of Absence, Absence, in the heart,   
And in the wood the furious winter blowing.

Think not, when fire was bright upon my bricks,   
And past the tight boards hardly a wind could enter,   
I glowed like them, the simple burning sticks,   
Far from my cause, my proper heat and center.

Better to walk forth in the frozen air
And wash my wound in the snows; that would be healing;   
Because my heart would throb less painful there,   
Being caked with cold, and past the smart of feeling.

And where I walked, the murderous winter blast   
Would have this body bowed, these eyeballs streaming,   
And though I think this heart’s blood froze not fast   
It ran too small to spare one drop for dreaming.

Dear love, these fingers that had known your touch,   
And tied our separate forces first together,
Were ten poor idiot fingers not worth much,   
Ten frozen parsnips hanging in the weather.

John Crowe Ransom, “Winter Remembered” from Selected Poems, Revised and Enlarged Edition. Copyright 1924, 1927, 1934, 1939, 1945, © 1962, 1963 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1969)
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Winter Remembered

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  • John Crowe Ransom was one of the leading poets of his generation. A highly respected teacher and critic, Ransom was intimately connected to the early twentieth-century literary movement known as the Fugitives,  later the Southern Agrarians. Around the year 1915, a group of fifteen or so Vanderbilt University teachers and students began meeting informally to discuss trends in American life and literature. Led by John Crowe Ransom, then a member of the university's English faculty, these young "Fugitives," as they called themselves, opposed both the traditional sentimentality of Southern writing and the increasingly frantic pace of life as the turbulent war years gave way to the Roaring Twenties. They recorded their concerns in a magazine of verse entitled the Fugitive, which, though it appeared little more than a dozen times after the first issue was published in 1922, proved to be in the vanguard of a new literary movement—Agrarianism—and a...

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