A Sudden Measure

George Bowering

copyright ©2004 by George Bowering

This sudden snow:
            immediately
the prairie is!

Those houses are:
            dark
under roofs of snow –

That hill up to the cloud is:
            markt
            by snow creeks down to town –

This footpath is:
            a bare line
across white field –

            This woman appears
            thru drift of snow:

a red coat.

Notes on the Poem

George Bowering's "A Sudden Measure" is as crisp as the wintry day it depicts. We'll perhaps sully the poem's pure beauty by trying too hard to analyze it. Let's tread lightly and try to leave it as pristine as freshly fallen snow. The poem's simple images and stark diction (including abrupt but wholly appropriate colons) imprint with striking visual impact on one's mind. Bowering's painterly approach places those clear images - "sudden snow", dark houses, a footpath that is a "bare line / across white" - on a canvas made wide and spacious by short lines and generous spacing and indents. The poem's final punctuation is the blaze of the woman's red coat. It's as sudden as the snow, contrasting with the monochromatic scheme of the snow, houses and clouds. It's breathtaking and immensely satisfying.

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