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Poetry Classroom: Universe


Fir Snow Petals Poetry

Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet and professor Julie L. Moore. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Julie and each other, and write your own poems along the way.


Did you know that if you stand in your yard
just after dusk

lifting your eyes like a prayer
to the heavens

& peer into snow falling
toward you,

your senses will swirl
& you can pretend, well enough,

that you are in another
world—you & the weightless

pearls dropping
from the sky’s broken neck-

lace—& you will spin
in orbit somewhere else

anywhere but here
in the universe of pain?

Photo by Willingham Lindquist. Used with permission. Poem by Julie L. Moore, author of Particular Scandals


Discussion Questions:

1. The poem asks if you know this about staring into falling snow. Do you?

2. Note that the poet uses the & sign instead of the word “and.” What do you think about this choice? Would the poem feel different if the actual word had been used?

3. The line breaks in this poem are notable. Do you have any favorites? Tell us why.

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Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. I know the feeling of snow abstractly that way, not specifically. It mutes the world. Cleans it up. Softens and whitens and gives it a fresh start. Dulls and dampens sharp edges. And quiets the loud like the world is rocking a fretful baby to sleep.

    The ampersand is graceful like falling snow. Gives movement, visual turns and twists unlike the clunky and.

    My favorite line break is weightless pearls dropping. Beautiful visual likening snowflakes to pearls. A first. And such a lovely visual metaphor.

    Love this one. And I like that rather than weaving elements of pain and the need to be buffered from suffering throughout the poem, it is light and lovely until the final work is dropped into the word-weaving. PAIN. just clunked down as a final thought.

    Thanks you for sharing this. GIft.

  2. The ampersand reminds me of a figure eight, its line gracefully and visually moving our eye through the line to the word that follows. (I like its use just after “your senses will swirl” and before “spin/ in orbit”, as if showing us visually what those words mean.)

    In this poem the symbol’s use also invokes quiet; we can’t hear snow falling, nor can we hear the ampersand if we say this poem aloud.

    This poem, to me, holds a lot of emotion. It’s restrained, though, unlike the snow that falls freely. Its containment contrasts with the hugeness of “universe”.

  3. 1. The imagery is clear from the title and the first 4 lines where your mind should start – starring into the snow.
    2. I support this choice, I do it as well. Sometimes I feel the “&” symbolic encourages the relationship with the two items – almost like they become one. “And” is universal and not as binding.
    3. “pearls dropping
    from the sky’s broken neck-” Beautiful. Great moment in the poem.

  4. Mark says:

    After years and years of reading and writing
    it’s plain to see that nothing in poetry is either wrong or right – Only to those who critique it
    Neither party will agree with you anyway
    Right & wrong
    Black & white
    John & Mary
    Salt & pepper
    And & ampersand
    I love when the snow falls & it lands
    gently on my face

  5. Thank you for these insightful comments!

  6. Interesting line breaks and I liked
    the weightless
    pearls dropping

    line breaks, the pause here gives the reader the space and time to imagine at looking above.
    The use of & is visual spinning which is quite related or appropriate to the lines coming forth.

  7. The poem looks nice the way it is laid out. The line breaks help with this, but can destroy the first read – you have to read it a second time once you’ve realised you need to read on.

    I would prefer to see line breaks that come with the end of thought, rather than in the middle of it. This would help the first-time reader, and not deter them or destroy their enjoyment of the poem.

    I wrote the following as a 2-line poem, but it could be laid out as follows:

    The mirror,
    the shop window,
    the shimmering lake
    Though each
    becomes you, your
    beauty they cannot take

    However, I prefer it like this so that the reader knows where they have to pause, aided by the punctuation:

    The mirror, the shop window, the shimmering lake,
    Though each becomes you, your beauty they cannot take.

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