(Poem #483) Brueghel's Winter
Jagg'd mountain peaks and skies ice-green Wall in the wild, cold scene below. Churches, farms, bare copse, the sea In freezing quiet of winter show; Where ink-black shapes on fields in flood Curling, skating, and sliding go. To left, a gabled tavern; a blaze; Peasants; a watching child; and lo, Muffled, mute--beneath naked trees In sharp perspective set a-row-- Trudge huntsmen, sinister spears aslant, Dogs snuffling behind them in the snow; And arrowlike, lean, athwart the air Swoops into space a crow. But flame, nor ice, nor piercing rock, Nor silence, as of a frozen sea, Nor that slant inward infinite line Of signboard, bird, and hill, and tree, Give more than subtle hint of him Who squandered here life's mystery.
Of all the poems on 'Hunters in the Snow', de la Mare's is easily the most subtle and haunting... it explores the hidden recesses, the dark shadows of Brueghel's painting with a wonderfully delicate touch. As T. S. Eliot says in his poem 'to Walter de la Mare' : " - the delicate, invisible web you wove - The inexplicable mystery of sound." Even the normally staid Brittanica is enthusiastic about his poetry: "[de la Mare had] an unusual power to evoke the ghostly, evanescent moments in life... incantatory, other-worldly magic... " "Other-worldly magic" - I couldn't agree more. thomas.  A very beautiful tribute; I'll run it on the Minstrels some time soon. [Links] 'The Listeners' is one of the most famous and best-beloved poems ever written; it was also only the second poem ever to feature on this mailing list. You can read it at poem #2 'Napoleon' is short and direct, but no less effective for that: poem #272