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6 April 2022

The NS Poem: A reply to Wallace Stevens, with a line from John Donne

A new poem by John Burnside.

By John Burnside

Cold in the shade, and yet, by afternoon
the snow is burning off along
the fence-line, where it lay in drifts for weeks,
a chill white, warming slowly to a blur
of slush and haze.
                                     I don’t have a mind

of winter. Only the timeworn saltlick of a heart
which can by no way be express’d
but negatives;
             yet nothing is more erotic than the way
the snowmelt spills and spends into the ditch,
still cold as ice, but mesmerised with green,

and though there’s nothing here that I could
     name,
I feel it, mesozoic, intimate,
one moment on the cusp of something else,
not one thing or the other: something else.

John Burnside is a Scottish author and poet, and the New Statesman’s nature columnist. His most recent poetry collection is “Learning to Sleep” (Jonathan Cape)

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This article appears in the 06 Apr 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Easter Special

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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