More than Glass

Snow (by Louis MacNeice)

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-
   window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms
   of one’s hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the
   huge roses.


30 thoughts on “More than Glass

  1. Lovely poem…touches home as we all recover here from a week of ice, snow and power outages. Yet in all its destruction and chaos, there was/is beauty.

  2. I like how she’s covered the 5 senses as well as the 4 seasons. As well as the 6th sense, and the 5th season.

    God and man. Both present and not yet. Seeing both forward and backward.

    Incorrigibly plural, how the glass is a prism both ways.

    I like the smell of snow, but not as much as the bugs far below it like the smell of the earth.

  3. Lovely, Gabrielle. I have a book of his poetry, and the one you’ve chosen here is one of my favourites.
    The picture compliments the poem perfectly. And I like that line – the drunkenness of things being various. I can just imagine the fire blazing, the comfort of the indoors and the simple pleasure of gazing outward at the snow – almost through the roses.

  4. Cathy, I hope things are getting back to normal for you all; was thinking about you today, and grateful for the warmth at my workplace – it was about 35 below today…

    Owen, no. I tried, but the pencil kept slipping out of my mitten. 🙂

    Carol, just thinking about what you said about the glass being a prism both ways. You really shouldn’t say things like that to me, because I will end up daydreaming for hours and then get sucked up into the vortex…when I’m supposed to be here, doing laundry…

    Ann, do you know what? For some reason when I was little, I thought he was Cdn., but then I found out he is a Belfastian. Can I say that – Belfastian? Anyway, I have a lovely old school textbook called “Poems to Remember”, and that’s where I took it from.

    Pia, I wish your scenario had been my day! No, we were up at 5 a.m. to get to work by 7 a.m. (Same all week, and same on Friday). It has to do with the bus strike, but that’s a long story. Maybe on the weekend we will make a little fire, and I will gaze at the snow in the backyard, and on the cedar hedges and the pine trees. If I sit on a particular spot on the sofa and look out the doors leading out to the deck, I really feel like I’m living in the country. Of course, I might also fall asleep.

  5. Ann, I think it might be “Ottawan”, but don’t quote me on that. (Like you have so many people you might be discussing that question with). 🙂 Some cities’ names just don’t suit that kind of thing, and for others it just sounds perfect – Montrealer, Vancouverite, Torontonian… The one that always struck me the oddest is Liverpudlian!

  6. And then there’s the Mancunian from Manchester,
    the Glaswegian and Lancastrian and the very familiar Brummie……the list goes on.

  7. 35 below?? Below zero Fahrenheit?? Yowzah. That’s when you’d find me in Florida, by hook or by crook. We’ve never seen colder than -20 F here (except in our mountains), nor hotter than 117 F (except on my forehead during a child’s July birthday party).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I like the idea of this being a poem from a man (spitting the pits –into the fire, with both spite and glee? and, uh “drunkenness”); since it seems to be his own place, I’d guess the pink roses are his wife’s. Since there is snow everywhere, he must’ve been truly thinking of her.

  8. Uh, no.. I’m an American woman, and tangerine pips are a real nuisance–we’ve always known what to do with them! In later years, I just remove them first –probably from being a mom for so long and wanting no kind of argument from children about a great source of vitamin C. Moms take all the fun out of stuff, but as Louis proves, boys disregard much of it whenever possible. Incorrigibly plural!

    I feel the drunkenness of things being various whenever I go to an Irish pub, where the world is suddener than I fancy it — there are the townies who appreciate the more affordable drink, the girls looking for guys or just to kill a weekend night, guys looking for girls, there is the bartender who is always so mysterious–what would make one want to work where he hears the same story 8 times and have to babysit inebriates– the bouncer (a grave mystery), and then there are the musicians who show up willy-nilly and collaterally make the place sweet Ireland. Sorta like pink roses against the snow.

  9. Ann 🙂 I’ve never heard of 3 out of those 4. What the heck’s a Brummie?

    Carol, -35 Celcius. I checked a converter, and that’s -31 Farenheit. About -40 they are equal, and then colder than that the Celcius number is smaller than the Farenheit number. Anyway, yes, we’ve had -40 here and worse, with the windchill factor. But 117 Farenheit, I’d die. In fact, I thought everybody would be pretty much dead, literally, at that temperature! And I must agree with you about bouncers; they certainly are a grave mystery. 🙂

    Pia, I’m afraid I must admit to having spit out tangerine seeds, but honestly, I didn’t aim at anyone in particular, although hubby’s head as he watched the news was always a tempting bullseye. 🙂

  10. Isn’t this always the way at the Haven. And here I was holding my breath waiting to hear all of your mystical thoughts about what, “more than glass”, might be between the snow and the roses.

  11. Ann, I am going to have to look more defiant out there in the wind and rain and sleet from now on-I’m gonna pace around and start smokin’ like Bette Davis! Omigosh, I can hardly wait, lol.

    G, as I looked at “21 comments” I had to chuckle –“this is the way at the Haven” is exactly what I thought, too, lol, and I know you are waiting for mystical thoughts about “more than glass” — I took the humourous way out because it could mean so many many things.

    What does it mean to you, G?

  12. well now … don’t know why i felt the itch to click on your site after all this time, but i’m sure glad i did. so glad to find you up and running, gabrielle. this piece is a keeper!

  13. C, I know that the poet is speaking of the “variousness”, the “plurality”, etc., and I imagine he is thinking there really is much more than glass between the roses and the snow – distance and difference – but I see it as just the opposite – there is much more than glass between them, more connectedness, more oneness, more unity…like we’ve spoken of often about the paradoxes of opposites…how they end up being identical in essence…

    Pia, there’s a real art to it, isn’t there. I always knew you were genteel. 😉 I think the finger food’s in Birmingham, ’cause I don’t see anything in my fridge…well, how about some Cdn. cheddar on a cracker…

    Laure, my goodness, I was just thinking about you the other day. Yes, I snuck (sneaked, snacked, snucked) back quietly in December; couldn’t bear the thought of Christmas without my friends…

  14. I could use some finger food here today. And a good fire. We’ve got snow! Well, you’d call it flurries, but I call it snow. 🙂

  15. Italian snow flurries! How exciting! I received some photos of the 4 or 5 cms they got in Wales; it melted very quickly, but was something really different for them too!

  16. The most italian thing I can say about the snow we had over the whole weekend is that it was like cheese on spaghetti. Very disappointing! Friday is Lorenzo’s birthday and it reminds me of the last great snow storm we had, 16 years ago. I spent from day two to 6 of my stay in the hospital without visitors, because we had over a foot of snow, with drifts of up to two feet deep. When we get snow, it’s very, very bad, because we don’t have the equipment needed to dig out of it, except for main streets (you have to close your eyes and hope you don’t scrape your car in our little labyrinth streets in good weather, so you can imagine what it’s like when it snows!) Another reason why it’s tough in a snow storm here, is that the kind of snow that comes down is that wet, icy stuff that brings down power lines, plus when those icy siberian winds sweep down in that particular type of cold front, they stay for a long time and freeze the olive trees and the grapevines.
    A good thing is that, for example, when you get a half day of sunshine like today, little yellow primroses start popping up all over the place. They remind me that the almond trees should already have bloomed, though…but there is nary a blossom in sight yet!

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