The Great February Blizzard

It is well while looking at rocks

to have the roar of a river in one’s ears.

Or to see still-standing trees

through falling snow.*

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[With the snow] each thing which had stood out,

crying in resistance to the wind,

now lapses and is lost in a pervasive still.

Bird, bush, mountain, animal, stick, and stone

—each is left to itself, alone,

as in timeless slumber.

The wildness is sealed in silence . . .

What blanches things visible,

blotting mass and form,

absorbing their very thinghood?

What in this obscuring is hushedly revealing?

What but the pure and secret presence that is snow? *

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I weighed everything

by the measure of the silent presence of things,

clarified in the racing clouds,

clarified by the cry of hawks,

solidified in the presence of rocks,

spelled syllable by syllable

by waters of manifold voice,

and consolidated in the act of taking steps,

each step

a meditation steeped in reality.*

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*Henry Bugbee, “On The Philosophic Significance of the Sublime,” Philosophy Today, 1967;  ** Bugbee, The Sense and the Conception of Being, PhD diss. 1947, UC Berkeley;  ***The Inward Morning, 139.

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2 comments on “The Great February Blizzard

  1. dmfant says:

    When I lived in the foothills
    birds flocked to the feeder:

    house finches, goldfinches,
    skyblue lazuli buntings,

    impeccably dressed chickadees,
    sparrows in work clothes, even

    hummingbirds fastforwarding
    through the trees. Some of them

    disappeared after a week, headed
    north, I thought, with the sun.

    But the first cool day
    they were back, then gone,

    then back, more reliable
    than weathermen, and I realized

    they hadn’t gone north at all,
    but up the mountain, as invisible

    to me as if they had flown
    a thousand miles, yet in reality

    just out of sight, out of reach—
    maybe at the end of our lives

    the world lifts that slightly
    away from us, and returns once

    or twice to see if we’ve refilled
    the feeder, if we still remember it,

    or if we’ve taken leave
    of our senses altogether.

    “The Underworld” by Sharon Bryan

  2. dmfant says:

    I like that Bugbee isn’t arguing here for the Sublime but placing us in media res, showing vs saying for those with eyes to see, a bit of virtual reality immersion.

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