"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Winter Shapes: Hydrangea Skeletons (2 of 2)

Winter Shapes: Hydrangea Skeletons (2 of 2)

From “A Winter Piece” in Poems by William Cullen Bryant:

The time has been that these wild solitudes,
Yet beautiful as wild, were trod by me
Oftener than now; and when the ills of life
Had chafed my spirit — when the unsteady pulse
Beat with strange flutterings — I would wander forth
And seek the woods. The sunshine on my path
Was to me as a friend. The swelling hills,
The quiet dells retiring far between,
With gentle invitation to explore….

But Winter has yet brighter scenes, — he boasts
Splendours beyond what gorgeous Summer knows;
Or Autumn with his many fruits, and woods
All flushed with many hues. Come when the rains
Have glazed the snow, and clothed the trees with ice;
While the slant sun of February pours
Into the bowers a flood of light….

The incrusted surface shall upbear thy steps,
And the broad arching portals of the grove
Welcome thy entering.


This is the second of two posts featuring hydrangeas and their winter shapes. Unlike the previous post (see Winter Shapes: Hydrangea Skeletons (1 of 2)), I took these on a dark and cloudy day, so there was no backlighting to make their little parts appear to glow. Yet these can be delightful to look at anyway (in my own humble opinion) because the softer light shows off some of the fine, lacy (and sometimes silver) textures in individual stems and flower petals.

I snipped the quotation above from the poem “A Winter Piece” by William Cullen Bryant. The poem is much longer than those excerpts, and is a vibrant ode to wandering the woods in the winter, with vivid descriptions of the sights and sounds one might encounter on an extended woodland walk. If you’d like to read the whole poem — or just skim it for some of the charming details — here’s a link to the full version:

A Winter Piece

Thanks for taking a look!


    1. Dale

      Thank you! I liked that poem a lot also; makes me want to read more of Bryant’s work so I’ll likely quote him in future posts.

      I had forgotten about his association with the Hudson River School artists until recently. If you go to the Wikipedia page about Bryant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Cullen_Bryant), there is an image of one of Asher Durand’s paintings — showing Bryant with Thomas Cole. Interesting, eh?

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