Friday, January 9, 2015

Poetry Friday: January by John Updike

Poetry Friday is a weekly event.  It is hosted this week by Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference.  Thank you for hosting, Tabatha.

This is the first time I have participated in Poetry Friday and I'm so happy to be here.  The poem I chose to share with everyone today is called January and it's from a book called A Child's Calendar by John Updike and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.  It was originally published in 1965 and later, reissued in 1999 by Holiday House and it was a 2000 Caldecott Honor Book.



The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor,
And parkas pile up
Near the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees' black lace.

The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
 The radiator
 Purrs all day.


  1. I like the way Updike includes things that could be a little scary ("The sun a spark/Hung thin between/The dark and dark") with things that are ordinary and comforting. He gets a mix that rings true that way. The illustration is beautiful (and also has just the right amount of dark).

    1. I think I like this poem by Updike because of the darkness in it. I'm not a fan of winter, and feel the darkness that comes so quickly very acutely. I hadn't thought of it begin scary, but I can really see what you mean. Thanks for your insight.

  2. Thanks for the lovely poem, Alex. Must look for this book! Love those fat snowy footsteps. :)

    1. Thanks, I love the imagery in this poem, too, but I think my favorite is the trees' black lace. Sounds so much better that bare branches.

  3. I HAVE this book, Alex, and clearly have not looked at it recently...thanks for reminding me of treasures forgotten, and of this old-fashioned so-current poem. Welcome to PF!

    1. Thanks, Heidi. I've been meaning to become part of PF for a while, but this is my do it year. This is a book full of treasures, itsn't it?

  4. I love that first stanza! And Trina Schart sad that we lost her young. I love her art. Welcome to Poetry Friday! Come back!!

    1. Thanks Mary Lee, I plan to return to Poetry Friday as much as possible. And I , too, love Triina Schart Hyman's art so much, and yes, it is a shame we lost her so young but luckily she gave us much art to remember her by.

  5. It's a wonderful book, and I have it, and thanks for reminding me of it, Alex. I'll take it in to share with my students! This first one, the attention to the dark in our January lives, is lovely. (My radiators have been purring!) Welcome to Poetry Friday!

  6. I love the imagery of the trees' black lace - how gorgeous. :)


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