Thursday, April 17, 2008


First, a little housekeeping. Both Shauna and Bernita are running PAYING IT FORWARD contests at Shauna Roberts' For Love of Words and An Innocent A-Blog respectively. (Charles, I missed yours because I did my taxes at the last minute--mea culpa.)

The following poem was one of my first posts when I started blogging last November. I'm bringing it back now that the blog is up and running, so to speak, and because today is going to be very busy. And oldie and, hopefully, a goody.

Outside, the moon floats through a leafless tree,
riding peaceably the road well taken
through Orion with his boots in the snow.
A mongrel underneath the tree
paws the ground at carp in the stream,
settles composedly in a mongrel’s dream.
Within, the woman turns, unawakened,
leaving the trace of a dream in a sigh,
and draws the patchwork tighter over shoulders and hips
weighted in the furnace hiss that serves as lullaby.
There is no reading to be done,
no study of poets, of Coleridge
contemplating frost at midnight.
Rather, the plumb for stillness wrapped in ice,
the maple sprig glazed by the stream,
is the night itself, dark and frozen,
hanging from the silver throne of Betelgeuse
by a rarefied thread that issues
the sounding of a sleeping world:
life, like the north gate,
is held fast in winter’s skin,
and yet there is the fire of a cold star,
sap-filled roots, a moon riding the sky.
There is a pulse in the stream, somewhere.
There is the trace of a dream in a sigh.

(First published in American Poets & Poetry, 1999)

picture: copyright, William Hammett, 2007.


gautami tripathy said...

Thanks for posting an oldie! How else I would have read this?


Charles Gramlich said...

This is wonderful. Very evocative of the winter. Love the "Silver Throne" and "frost at midnight"

Lisa said...

This leaves me speechless. I love the sensation of things frozen, but still with life, a pulse, warmth. Just beautiful.

Sarah Hina said...

And yet so much happens in the space of that stillness. Billy, this poem made me close my eyes and just listen.

So glad you resurrected this! It's too lovely. :)

TomCat said...

Excellent Billy. It inspires hope that our nation can awaken once again from the torpor of the last seven years.

paisley said...

a glorious resurrection... thank you for reposting it....

Billy said...

guatami, thanks. I didn't have many readers the first two weeks. LOL.

Charles, I actually wrote this in 1977, but I still like the way it sounds.

Lisa, the idea that life exists beneath winter always lifts my spirit.

Sarah, very true. There's much to hear in the stillness. Thanks -:)

TC, a very good interpretation. The government indeed seems to be in stasis.

paisley, I suspect it really is a poem anticipating resurrection. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Rowanberry Writes said...

Billy, gee I am so glad you started Chapter and Verse. This is a very uplifting poem of the renewal.
Just beautiful. Sometimes silence can be over powering. I love the images of life just waiting to melt and start again.

love, Melanie

Rowanberry Writes said...

Oh, sorry Billy. I am working on a new writing and artwork blog. I don't think I can use Blogger for it.
Must give wordpress a try.


Billy said...

Thanks, Melanie! Let me know the address of your new blog!

Geraldine said...

Absolutely beautiful Billy! Oldies can indeed be goodies, thanks for the re-post. I wasn't visiting when this first appeared. BFN, G

Billy said...

Gerldine, almost no one was visiting when this first appeared ROFL. I was a newbie--and still am I suppose.

Janice Thomson said...

This is beautifully wrought William. In the deathlike stillness of winter comes that 'pulse' of life yet again. One could study for years the hidden implications. This is one of my favorites - am delighted you chose to repost it.

Scott from Oregon said...

Loved it. Just loved it.

Lane said...

A goodie indeed!

It conveys the same sense of stillness that your newer poems do.


Andrée said...

A trace of a dream in a sigh. Life. For me. This poem of yours reminds me so much of Frost. The maple sprig, the woman, the dog . . . this is so beautiful and nostalgic.

Lana Gramlich said...

Lovely photo and poem. Keep up the good work, Bill!

Crafty Green Poet said...

very beautiful, I'm always in favour of recycling old poems!

Billy said...

Janice, thanks. It has been my favorite since I wrote it in the late 70s during a very cold winter. I was intrigued that nothing can eradicate life beneath the ice.

Thanks, Scott. One of my better efforts over the years.

Lane, you bring up something that I hadn't noticed (I'm too close to my own work I guess). I seem drawn to quiet, still objects and places. Probably because my life has always been too busy, like everyone else's. Thanks!

Andree, I think the maple sprig glazed in the pond is the defining image of the poem, of life held temporarily in suspension. As for being like Frost ... hehehe ... it's a lovely thought. You have made my day.

Thank you, Lana. I'm having more trouble by the day keeping up with blogging ... but onward. So many of those "mundanes" are popping up :)

Juliet, yes, when it comes to recycling, why not the poems themselves.

(It's a shame, but ever since Katrina, the recycling trucks in this region have never rolled again. After 2.5 yrs. A travesty.)

SandyCarlson said...

There is hope, indeed. The imagery is wonderful and rich, Billy. I love to walk at night in winter; I feel I have just done that tonight!

Billy said...

Sandy, thanks. Life in death ... but I'm still glad it's spring!