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A MIND OF WINTER: YVES BONNEFOY

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Some winter mornings I wake to a peculiar muffled quiet, as though a blanket has been thrown over the air itself, damping down any vibration. In a way, it has: snow is falling. The usual creaks and hums of the house are muted; my felt slippers on the wood floor as I move away from the window are the loudest sound. "Does snow fall the same way in every language?" asks Yves Bonnefoy in the preface to Beginning and End of the Snow (translated by Emily Grosholz). The words of each language, Bonnefoy writes, in one of the most beautiful passages about snow I've come across, would have to have the same relations as flakes of snow: the same ways of meeting, of melting into or avoiding each other, of making great whirlwinds or easy somersaults, minutes of agitation followed by instants when the sky seems to be immobile, after which sudden lights appear. Conclusion: not possible. Bonnefoy wrote this sequence of poems about snow (and, in the way of