Snow Dog

Snow Dog Nelly

Photo:  Barbara Anstie


The depth of it exceptional, and all
at once she lies and sits and stands below.
She smiles, then in her mind she skips, her paws
tread deeply in the soft white powdered snow.

An icy East wind hails from far away,
intemperate continental clime it brings,
that covers food so blackbirds cannot find
sufficient energy to brace their wings.

Out there, beyond the hill, the homeless lie,
reciting tunelessly an unheard poem,
they fight an urge to yield to hopelessness,
and longing for a crackling log-fired home.

We look in warmth, contentment unalloyed,
at children with their snow dog, overjoyed.

© 2013 John Anstie


[Poetic notes: This poem looks like a sonnet, in that it has fourteen lines, arranged into four quatrains and a concluding couplet, and it is written in iambic pentameter. But that is where the similarity ends. The rhyming scheme is confined to alternate (second and fourth) rhyming lines and a rhyming couplet at its end. So it is different from either Petrarchan or Shakespearean forms. Crucially, though, the classic structure, in which the first eight lines present an issue or problem, and the last six lines, particularly the finishing couplet, present a resolution or a ‘turn’, is absent. Instead, the opening quatrain portrays a pleasant scene, the second and third stanzas move to present the problems created by cold winter weather for wildlife and the homeless, but then the final couplet seems to try and put blinkers on the reader; blotting out, as it were, the harsh reality of life’s injustice. It depends on your mindset, as to which sentiment the poem leaves you with…]

– John Anstie

© 2016 poem and explaination, John Anstie; photograph, Barbara Anstie, All rights reserved


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

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