Today was the first snowfall of the winter in Regina. We’ve had about ten cms of snow, coupled with bitter winds of 70 km/h. The precise meteorological term for what we’ve “enjoyed” today is “weather bomb.” All in all, a somewhat miserable day in the Queen City. And the snow just keeps falling and the winds just keep howling.

Still, the fact that it is the first snowfall of the winter reminds me of one of my favourite poems: “St. Agnes’ Eve” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I cannot help but recall his line about the “first snowdrop of the year,” even if the winter day Tennyson depicts is far more idyllic than the one which visited Regina today. Yet perhaps the contrast between Tennyson’s snowdrop and ours serves to make his words all the more beautiful. Our dreary day makes his seem all the more heavenly. And, indeed, perhaps the heaven to which Tennyson points in this poem is made all the more beautiful by our current annoyances, as we anticipate that celestial paradise where such annoyances will finally pass away. As Tennyson himself demonstrates in the poem, recognition of the imperfectness of this world can be the impetus for greater hope in the state of perfection to come.

For your enjoyment:

St. Agnes’ Eve

Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapour goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.

As these white robes are soil’d and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper’s earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Thro’ all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.

He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide–
A light upon the shining sea–
The bridegroom with his bride!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson