beautiful now

 —  The first snow fall came in early December this year, in a part of the world where azaleas often bloom until Christmas. The beauty caught us unaware; the stillness reminded us that there is no need to hurry.  Everything and everyone stopped for the snow.  The poet e. e. cummings has captured such an event in his brief, lovely poem.  Read it slowly, softly, with a sense of wonder.

Garden in the Snow - December 2018 - photo by ZenGarden

The poet, with his unconventional line breaks and parentheses, invites us to read this poem in a variety of ways. Let’s start with the simplest reading, which uses  conventional line breaks:

beautiful
is the unmeaning
of (silently) falling
(everywhere)
snow.

We might also read omitting the parenthetical words.

beautiful is the unmeaning
of falling snow.

We might perhaps read only the parenthetical words:

silently everywhere

Finally, we might read the first and last words, using his original line breaks:

beautiful now

Now that we’ve read the poem in a variety of interpretations, let’s read it as the poet originally wrote it, with its strange looking word breaks and odd insertions.  When reading the original, our eyes slowly piece together the words and phrases, zig-zagging from line to line, much like lazily falling snow.

beautiful

is the
unmea
ning
of (sil

ently) fal

ling (e
ver
yw
here) s

now

~ e. e. cummings

Last week, soft yellow pansies reflected the sun; ferns and winter creeper spread through the late fall garden. There was even one last bloom on the rose bush.  Today, the garden is covered with snow. Every season has its own “beautiful now”.

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