“Counterpoint”

The snow this morning is quite beautiful,
Coating every tree’s branch with white
And providing a perfect counterpoint
To the grey sky, but I cannot see it.
I have been spoiled by my beloved’s face
And God’s glory made manifest therein.

I probably wrote this in the winter of my sophomore year of college, but it seemed so fitting that I’ve postponed the material I had scheduled to post it now. As you can see in the comments below, the title was suggested by Maria Tatham. I’ve also posted it to my wiki. Feedback of any kind, whether critique, praise, question, reply, or suggestion, or anything else, is as always eagerly requested and greatly appreciated.

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7 thoughts on ““Counterpoint”

    • The reason I ask about titles is that I do not like having a title the same as, or even not-quite-the-same-but-very-similar-to, the first line. If, in my eventual collection (the reason I’m soliciting opinions as to my best poetry—thanks for your help!) I include a poem I don’t have a “proper” title for, I’ll list the first line in the table of contents and indexes, then leave it without a poem in the body of the collection.

      Breaking this into stanzas … hmm. It’s so short that (unless I broke the stanzas in the middle of a sentence) there’d hardly be any point …

  1. People tampering with the poetry of others should be fined or imprisoned, right? But here:

    The snow this morning is quite beautiful,
    Coating every tree’s branch with white
    And providing a perfect counterpoint
    To the grey sky, a sky I can’t see because
    I have been spoiled by my beloved’s face
    And God’s glory made manifest in it.

    Title: “Counterpoint”
    ?

    • Some people I have encountered at least claim that poetry shouldn’t be revised after the fact at all; I don’t share that view, or the idea that because it is such a “personal, private matter” possible revisions should be scorned and not even offered. Thank you for your help.

      There’s something about your suggested rendering that feels subtly … wrong. Actually, once I start to think of why, two problems with replacing “it” with a repetition of “sky”. First, the antecedent of “it” is ambiguous, and I suspect I originally intended it to refer to “snow”, or to something more general, not spelled out in the poem. But second, repeating the word like that on both sides of what I now perceive (thanks to your suggestion) as the hinge of the poem (I’ll come back to that in a moment) gives the impression that the sky (or snow) is important. What’s important is the beauty or glory that I am permitted to see in it.

      Now that I see that this point in the poem (“but” in my original) is the hinge on which the poem turns, I think a simple way to improve it would be to simply replace the comma with a dash, like so: “… To the grey sky—But I cannot see it.”

      I’ll grant that “therein” is again something of an archaism (though I suspect a dictionary would mark it “poetic” rather than “archaic”), but again I’m concerned about syllabic stress. “in it”, at the end of the poem, just trails off, because each is a word that is stressed or unstressed according to its metric context. If this were only part of the poem and followed by some further lines, “it” would just be a weaker stress than usual, but the rhythm would work. Here at the end, however, there’s no following line to hold up the strength of the meter. “Therein,” with its single definite stress pattern, can’t help but end somewhat … sharply.

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