Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Steve Whitaker
Literary Editor
1:00 AM 23rd May 2023

Poem Of The Week: The Long Snow By Matthew Hollis

The Long Snow

As the drift grew deeper he pressed on,
to where it cupped his ankle and his calf.
On, above his knee, around his waist,
until it held him fast. And there he stood,
unable to return or to advance.
And so he carried on inside his mind,
the ground untrod, a hood of cold,
through fields that meet no gateway or no road.

The journey of body and mind in Matthew Hollis’ fine octet is as compelled and driven as a pilgrimage.

Sewn seamlessly together, the gentle interchange of iambs and trochees makes footprints in the snow, actuating the measured rhythm of a trudge in the silence of a deluge without limit. The protagonist’s progress is slow but inexorable; his passage from the physical to the metaphysical is somehow underwritten.

Conceived in the simple and solemn language of an acolyte, the poem transforms the figure in the landscape, making of him a visitant, a traveller to an unknown, borderless land, where footprints cease and the chill of selpuchral suggestion creeps across the plain.

‘The Long Snow’ is taken from Earth House, Bloodaxe Books (2023) and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publisher.

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