"The Buck in the Snow"


pencil, oil pencil, pastel


First of all, this is the last (I think/hope) small picture I'll be doing for a long while.  If nothing else, I need to turn my attention to other matters (such as, for instance, painting two commissions of folks-with-boats......and those won't be something I'll be sending out for public edification, although they will be something that pays for the dog food, etcetera, around here).

In any case, I had one last, small frame to fill, and now I've happily filled it.

I probably should emphasize that, actually, winter is (and has always been) my favorite season, particularly here in semi-rural Hillsborough and the surrounding county (which does, indeed, have many rural and relatively undeveloped areas).  Winter's the only time I take long, Tess-in-the-turnip-field walks....and I rarely take the terriers with me; like my old, hunting friend Felton (he died at age 93 just a few years ago), they make so much noise that every bird and animal within a mile runs away or ducks for cover.

The following poem is one that I've loved since I first read it in the "Collected Poems" my grandmother gave to me for Christmas in 1976.  Surprisingly enough, that copy is sitting by my elbow as I type this.

The Buck in the Snow

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps... lovely and slow,
Over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.

Now he lies here, his wild blood scalding the snow.

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing--a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow--

Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.

----------------- Edna St. Vincent Millay
, 1927