Thursday Poem

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” —James Joyce, The Dead

Snow and Love
On this day of burning heat, I’m waiting for snow.
I’ve been waiting for it always.
When I was a boy, I read Notes from the House of the Dead
and saw snow falling on Siberian steppes
and on the tattered coat of Fyodor Dostoevsky.
I love snow because it doesn’t separate day from night
or distance heaven from the sufferings of earth.
It unites what’s separate:
the footsteps of those condemned to darkened ice
and sighs of love vanishing in the air.
One has to have a fine-tuned ear
to hear the music of falling snow, something almost silent
like the touch of an angel’s wing, assuming there are angels,
or the dying breath of a bird.
One shouldn’t wait for snow the way one waits for love.
They are different things. It’s enough to open our eyes to see the snow
falling on a deserted field. And it falls on us, cold white snow
that doesn’t burn like the flame of love.
To see love our eyes do not suffice,
nor our ears, nor our mouth, nor even our hearts
that beat in the dark with the same sound
as snow falling on the steppes
and on the roofs of darkened hovels
and on the tattered coat of Fyodor Dostoevsky.
To see love, nothing suffices. Both winter cold and searing heat
keep it from us, from our open arms
and our tormented hearts.
Faithful to my childhood, I prefer to see snow
that unites heaven and earth, night and day,
rather than be a helpless prey to love,
love that is neither white nor pure nor cold as snow.
by Lêdo Ivo
© Translation: 2010, Alexis Levitin
publisher: PIW, 2010