Richard Wilbur

(March 1, 1921)

Year's End - Poem by Richard Wilbur

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I've known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.


Comments about Year's End by Richard Wilbur

  • Susan Williams (1/1/2016 12:56:00 PM)


    What powerful images he re-created- how the past can be immortalized in snow and ash at least for a while. Those late fallen leaves that are frozen upright on the lake looking like ice skaters- those people and dog buried under ash in Pompeii- life is so transient. (Report) Reply

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  • Kim Barney (1/1/2016 12:05:00 PM)


    My favorite line:
    The little dog lay curled and did not rise
    But slept the deeper as the ashes rose

    Almost makes it sound as if the dog froze to death, but leaves you wondering.
    (Report) Reply

  • Ahmed Gumaa Siddiek (1/1/2016 11:28:00 AM)


    It is the time factor that we mortal creatures are fated to face. winter then summer and we are unable to say anything we are subject to fate. (Report) Reply

  • (1/1/2016 10:41:00 AM)


    Excellent portrayal of nature in winter and snowfall effects etc on the eve of new year. Thanks for sharing.10 points. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (1/1/2016 6:23:00 AM)


    Snow or leaves settled in wintry bed, men and materials buried under ash of volcanic eruption and all such destroying scenes cannot stop the coming end of an year and let the new one bring joy thereafter! (Report) Reply

  • Spock The Vegan (12/28/2015 5:23:00 PM)


    definitely gives the picture of a winter. Well written. (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »



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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 10, 2015



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