Helen Hunt Jackson

(18 October 1830 – 12 August 1885 / Amherst, Massachusetts)

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A Calendar of Sonnets: January

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.
O Heart, when Love's sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter's own release.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: winter, june, loss, strength, snow, rose, peace, sleep, fire, january, death, sun, heart

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  • Michael Harmon (11/14/2009 10:14:00 PM)

    Oh, one potentially relevant follow-up point: poems.
    I believe that any feelings that arise from poems come from logically processing (aka reading and ruminating on) words, which are, after all, what poems themselves are made of, not actual, real experiences (although they may be 'about' them, and reading a poem is an actual, real experience) . Both the 'content' of poems (the underlying ideas, themes, emotions attempting to be expressed) , and the 'form' of poems (the specific words selected that may affect us on a 'visceral', or 'emotional' level) , need to be processed in our minds before we can feel the emotions the poet wishes to evoke in us. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (11/14/2009 9:57:00 PM)

    It would be easy to get into a long debate about this. However, denying 'that the heart can be subject to the mind's demands' does seem to run counter to the entire 'Cognitive' revolution in modern psychology (beginning, I believe, circa 1980) . It is one of the perspectives in psychology, at least the last time I attended psych 101, in 1997, and one that has many powerful tools for the identification and treatment of psychological disorders, depression, for example. It does suggest that thoughts, emanating, as we know, in the mind, can cause feelings.
    It is, at least the last time I studied this subject, one of several perspectives.
    In any event, the idea in this particular poem seems to be a precursor to that line of thinking, and a century before it's time.
    To my thinking, good poems tend to be open to different interpretations, none of them necessarily 'invalid'. Perhaps this poem, which appears to be an interesting variation on the petrarchan sonnet, is one of them. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (11/14/2009 5:42:00 AM)

    There are some fines lines here, but the insight into human psychology of this poem is wrong. Love’s loss is painful and anxious even despairing – no Winter metaphor can change that or make us “sleep on content”. The heart, when Love’s summer is over, is not a rose that can sleep through winter, it does not rest in peace. To urge one’s heart to do so, is to imagine that the heart can be subject to the mind’s demands. There is a time when the pain of lost love is over, but that is the beginning of Spring! Winter is (underlined) bad - only a city person with central heating and a full larder could rest in peace in it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Ramesh T A (11/14/2009 1:20:00 AM)

    Lovely sonnet on winter by Helen is interesting to read! Poem is very beautiful with images mentioned in it! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Emma Lee (11/14/2008 5:19:00 PM)

    that was a really good poem, very good!
    takes a couple times to understand, but i can well visuliza, good work!
    Emma (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Jim Doyle (11/14/2007 11:24:00 AM)

    What a truly beautiful verse - with the exception of the last line, which I don't get.! !
    Is it just me? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Lucianne Fasolo (11/14/2007 6:06:00 AM)

    It *is* beautiful, :) But maybe someone mistyped it, because I counted 15 verses instead of 14... I don't think I'm seeing double, lol! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Christine Woodrich (11/14/2006 3:49:00 PM)

    I love poems like this! I love the style of writing. It's so beautiful and it seems ancient today. But like a fine wine, it only grows better with age, especially to those who truly appreciate the art. (Report) Reply

Read all 11 comments »

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