Painting by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave, November 2002

JUVENILIA

1: compositions produced in the artist’s or author’s youth
2: artistic or literary compositions suited to or designed for the young
Origin of JUVENILIA
Latin, neuter plural of juvenilis
First Known Use: 1622

As the Wikipedia entry for Juvenilia explains: “the term was first used in 1622 in George Wither‘s poetry collection Ivvenilia.  Later, other notable poets, such as John Dryden and Alfred Lord Tennyson came to use the term for collections of their early poetry. Jane Austen‘s earlier literary works are also known by the name of Juvenilia. An exception to retrospective publication is Leigh Hunt’s collection Juvenilia, first published when he was still in his teens.”

One of my earliest extant poems, written when I was 15, came to my attention recently. The poem is called “Snow Sleeping November.” I was surprised by its language and resonance, although some of it seems over-written and bears too heavy an influence of Whitman, Frost, Hopkins, and perhaps Stephen Crane.

I can still see the cabin in New York’s Finger Lakes that provided its inspiration.

Here is my poem,

“Snow Sleeping November”

 

I realize the briskness of this November eve,

the quiet, complacency of stiff snow,

the darkness of full‑breasted snowclouds,

all of us retaining warmth

like soapstone.

 

My cup is full of hot water

the wood in the fire

gleams like cat’s eyes & gives-off a

sun‑like warmth‑‑radiant, welcoming.

 

Short days & long, frozen nights,

girding my boots

for the crisp winterchill,

wind driving drafts up my nose.

The sparkling, icy water

and trees stiff in the dead weight

of snow‑leaden branches.

 

Poets crawling at the clouds

pulling snow groundfast‑‑

Those November trees!

 

–Scott Edward Anderson

 

The painting is a sketch by my friend Lisa Hess Hesselgrave from my personal collection. You can see more work by Lisa at LisaHesselgrave.com

 

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