Winter Music

November and trees blown bare and leaves stippling
The autumn-stripping wind and trees futilely fingering
Lee-wind after down-streaming foliage…

The bright birds are gone and their small and excellent music,
The nests unleafed and visible to ridicule of sparrows and pigeons…

Now turn. From no feathered throat shall be this winter’s music.
Nor from memories of music in deserted nests.
Now turn to wind’s cry in the bent trees and the granite gaps,
And in the city clattering the billboards together,
And furious between houses flinging the snow against frosted snow.

Turn here to this extravagance for voice and music.
Open imagination to the clash of gigantic air.
For wisdom, there is the sunlight falling unbent across such fury.

From The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997), edited by Edward M. Cifelli. Copyright © 1997 by the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust. Used with the permission of the publisher.