Friday, February 19, 2021

ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS "February" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town for Roundup.

First a special announcement for my Alabama friends: Karim and I will be signing THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO this Sunday at Little Professor Books in Homewood, 2-4 pm. Socially distanced and masked, of course... I'll be the one in the cat mask. :)

Today's Poetry Friday offering has a few connections I'd like to share. 

1. Unlike most of the world, I love February! I love it because it's short, and I love it because it's my birthday month. (Happy Birthday to my fellow February birthday Poetry Friday friends, of which I know there are quite a few: Ruth, Heidi, Laura, Kat, Tabatha!!!)

2. I wrote this one in a new-to-me form called a "viator." It has a refrain that appears in a particular spot in each stanza, and I kind of love it! You can learn more about the viator here. 

3. This piece of art by Vincent van Gogh is his "cover" of another artist's painting. What a great reminder that ALL artists imitate as they are learning!

4. You may recognize the words "bleak midwinter." They appear "In the Bleak Midwinter" by Christina Rossetti. Also, Thomas Shelby and his compatriots repeat these words whenever they are facing death. (If you don't know who Thomas Shelby is, you should! Check out Peaky Blinders.)

5. One article I read said the colors of this painting have faded over time, so that now the ravens stand out more than they originally did... adding to the bleakness that I chose to write about. Perhaps my poem would have gone in a different direction were I writing it upon Vincent first completing it?

And now, the poem! Thanks so much for reading.


On bleak midwinter mornings
birds forage forgotten fields.
They dust and flutter,
dig and carry.

For birds, joy unfolds
on bleak midwinter mornings.
At this peaceful feast,
all are welcome.

Frost cannot keep
their chorus from rising
on bleak midwinter mornings.
Wings, too, symphony the sky.

Stop your stalling,
the birds call.
Marry yourself to fortune
on bleak midwinter mornings.

- Irene Latham


  1. Irene, you provided a feast for my eyes. Beautiful line, "Wings, too, symphony the sky." The refain fits wonderfully with your poem that is so peaceful to me. This is just where I want to be this morning. Thanks, Irene.

  2. Oh, my goodness, I love Peaky Blinders. That Thomas Shelby character is played so well by such a handsome actor. And, that line they echo of the character's memories of WWI.
    I have a tough time with February. But, this poem does bring it some love...the peaceful time for the birds to feast and be glad. It's nice. It's affirming.

  3. Hello Irene. I always love and admire your offerings and poems. They are so rich yet spare and well done. Now learning this new form, viator, is delightful, too. Happy Birthday. It is an important month for us: Husband, Sister, Niece, Son, Mother. So a love month for sure. I was drawn in by birds, forage forgotten fields. Alliteration so well done. Thank you as always, Irene. I wish you would write a book about your life in poetry. There is so much here you have to offer. I learn so much. Janet Clare F.

  4. Happy Birthday Month! And thanks for your lovely poem: "symphony the sky" is exquisite. Enjoyed hearing about yet another poetic form too. :)

  5. PS In our turn there are art conservators at Westlake Conservertors. I have taken tours to see how they bring old paintings to their original state. Now I don't think anyone ought to be checking on Vincent Van Gogh, but the way they cleaned the Cistine Chapel and brought forth the original color is always amazing to me. (I have not seen it in person but hope to......bucket list.) And I know there are some books that contrast the grey (smoke/grime) version from when i was young to the cleaned work.....but who knows. I have toured the Westlake place and find it amazing what they know how to do and how intense and detailed and slow-going it is.Janet

  6. "Marry yourself to fortune/on bleak midwinter mornings" -- your poem reminds me of the birds that visit our backyard, hoping we'll scatter some seeds for them on the ice and snow.

  7. I believe I discerned how that 'viator' goes, Irene & your poem fits so well with its rules. Winter does seem to repeat & repeat, perhaps this month more than ever! I love the idea of the birds that "dust and flutter" and Van Gogh's painting at first looked as if it was the ocean. Every bit fills me up! Have fun signing books, a nice thing to do for a birthday month!

  8. Happy birthday month. I too love February - because it's the third month of summer in my part of the world, and often has the loveliest weather. I had not seen that Van Gogh, and it's a perfect accompaniment to your poem. I had not heard of a viator, but am going to learn more and try my hand. That refrain is wonderful! Congratulations on your book. I want to see you in that cat mask :)

  9. Happy birthday month. Thanks for sharing the new form. I enjoyed your bleak midwinter poem.

  10. I met with a small group on Thursday. They had missed one of our Poetry Fridays for one technological snafu or another, and I wanted to give them a chance to choose, practice, and perform. One group chose "Bear's Promise" from ArtSpeak Red, and one girl chose this newest poem. We were delighted by the ways the two poems "talked" to each other and to our current weather. Thank you!

  11. Your use of the repeated line, "on bleak midwinter mornings" in different positions in each stanza was very effective, Irene! Yippee for February birthdays - my hubs celebrated his last week. And best wishes for your 'cat masked' book celebration. :)

  12. Happy Birthday month, Irene, and thanks for sharing this form which is new to me. The repetition of "bleak midwinter mornings" really works and gives it an even more somber feel in the midst of this homely everyday joy.

  13. Happy Birthday month, Irene, and thanks for sharing this form which is new to me. The repetition of "bleak midwinter mornings" really works and gives it an even more somber feel in the midst of this homely everyday joy.

  14. Classic Irene: on your birthday you give US gifts! Thanks for the early birthday wishes to this March Pisces! (I think I will plan a birthday poets' Zoom party.) The viator is a repetitive form that I am now itching to try, and your art choice is both February bleak and February vibrant. Your last stanza especially--"Stop your stalling...Marry yourself to fortune" counteracts my blaahs.

  15. The repetition of "bleak midwinter mornings" in your poem works so well. I also loved "Wings, too, symphony the sky." Actually that whole third stanza wowed me. And Happy Birthday month! As a fellow Feb. birthday celebrator, I always found it nice to have an occasion to celebrate in a month that so many others find dreary! Enjoy your special day and thanks for a lovely post!

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