Ode to Winter

This is a poem that gave me great satisfaction to write and actually finish! It contains vague references to Byron‘s ‘Ode to Napoleon’ and is an attempt to compare Winter to that self-proclaimed Emperor. However, I hope that the text can stand alone without the need to dust off old books or invest in new ones, but , for thise interested in poetry in general, it is worth at least glancing at ‘Ode to Napoleon’.

Ode to Winter was written in 2016 at HMP Highpoint thanks to a prison officer who was kind enough to print out ‘Ode to Napoleon’ for me from the internet – yet another indication of human beings overcoming adversity through the goodwill of others. I hope one day that that officer will read this!

I confess that I only found the Byron poem, for the first time, through the music of Arnold Schoenberg of which I have been fascinated by since the early 70’s. So it is a mundane example of how different art forms can stimulate each other and for those that are interested in the source, please click on the link below.

Ode to Winter

 ‘Tis done – the Gregorian date derived

Today – the astronomical Spring

The vernal equinox has arrived

Yesterday’s weather no longer king

But birth begins, new life holds sway

Now past – the saddest, shortest day

You, Winter, were that nameless thing

Your depths of darkness we’ve survived

Despite disasters, man has thrived

Did you think our souls would simply die

That you might conquer every season

That we, our heads in hands, would cry

As if in loss of rhyme or reason?

You taught us well the elements to fight

The deprivations of darkest night

To resist your deeds – no act of treason

Our triumph is not vanity

Our Spring sustains our sanity

And those that by your force have died

Washed away in burst-bank rivers

Your clumsy, climatic homicide

They yielded to their shakes and shivers

The warlike waves your wrath was bringing

Left sailors to their life rafts clinging

Mere fortune favoured few survivors

Of avalanche snow and frozen lake

Yours is a power that makes men quake

But life lingers, human birth continues

Despite our woes, population grows

Repaired the broken bones and sinews

Man preoccupied with other foes

His real enemies are of his kind

They share with him his frame of mind

Even as it rains, or hails, or snows

Man, on his own world, wages war

As share of space he fights for more

Autumn may shed its million leaves

And Summer heat may burn our crops

More produce lost than that by thieves

Nature’s cycle never stops

Buffeted by a wind that’s bolder

That makes wood’s embers smoke and smoulder

In valleys or on mountain tops

Volcanoes spew their streams of stone

Your fearsome force is not alone

Yet there was a day when Winter ruled

When man was but a child

Now no-one is by seasons fooled

Whenever weather’s wild

Shielded from your icy blast

Humanity’s deadly die is cast

And earth is thus defiled

You cannot joy of Spring destroy

Whatever weapons you deploy