This is my response to Louis MacNeice’s poem Snow. It’s for Brendan over at Real Toads who asks us to respond to a poem that inspired us. 


You came in, and suddenly
the room was full of roses,
as if you were the tipping point
that made it all make sense.

Inside, trapped warmth, rich scent,
and all those roses crawling up the walls,
across the curtains, and the glass vase
swelling on the wooden table,

one petal on the shiny surface, fallen.
Outside, winter,all lines and angles, woodcut.
The world turns in analogue, infinitesimal.,
but we see the moment when the load shifts.

World is evolution.

I’m struggling here. This room too
soft and fragrant. I could sink,
but there is something urgent
out there, beyond the glass.

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes—
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

12 thoughts on “Roses

  1. It’s great to read equals playing tennis, lobbing and parrying the same conceit with the end of bettering each other. I read the MacNeice poem first and said, la, how is Connor going to circumscribe huge roses by a window filled with snow with that glass between as something only a snow-mind understand? And you go right in there to the same room and huge roses and whiting snow and in that glass blossom anyway, too beautiful and frail for snow but at it anyway, meeting the other poet at the net and shaking hands for the next round. Or something. Stevens said the poet’s job was to resist reality almost successfully, and there’s that glass, that baffling world. Thanks so much for filling us in from both sides, and for joining in a challenge that gets booted round a lot.


    • Thank you, Brendan. I feel slightly over-rated after that! It was really good to get a slightly different go at a slightly different version of the prompt. I think the tennis metaphor is quite freeing – it makes it more about dynamically responding. Thank you for a great prompt.


  2. I like the way you have expelled the snow and left just the roses, Sarah! I love the whole poem but oh, the final stanza!
    ‘I’m struggling here. This room too
    soft and fragrant. I could sink,
    but there is something urgent
    out there, beyond the glass’.


  3. I could see and smell the roses in this poem. I love how you removed the separation of glass between roses and snow. You brought them in for us to embrace their heavy scents through your beautiful words.


  4. What an excellent poem, and just like Kim I liked how you excluded the snow and just talked about the roses… it’s a skill to write poetry about roses… such a great metaphor but so much used, and how you ended it made me think it was entirely new.


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