It's cold outside, below freezing, the firs and fenceline frosted white late into mid-morning. From my spot near the fireplace, I watch through the sliding glass door as sparrows and chickadees and the black-hooded juncoes hop and scratch in the seed spread on the porch. Swarms of gray bushtits flow like schools of fish over the suet feeder hung in the eaves. Mourning doves drop from the rooftop, sluggish in the cold. Even the winter sun seems chilled.
There is a slight breeze, a sigh, a breath of air. The fir tree shakes its needles, and the thin sunlight catches the spray of ice crystals. It is Oberon's fairyland. Tír na nÓg. The air fills with glints of color and turning light.
I think it's a trick of my eyes or the pain I harbor. But then a tendril of mist lifts from the wooden fence struck with sun, and another burst sparkles through the yard.
The darkness in me eases, and I am able to sleep for a bit. Outside my window, ice turns in the light and shines a field of stars over the birds.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.
THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.