frost on the branch -
grandmother is spinning her thread
by the fireside
A poem that seems a sample of cliche and of the commonplace. The two parts simply record the facts. Their ordinary reality is devoid of any thrill. There is not even a small textual accident (like a pun, a word with two meanings etc.) to deter from the literary sense of what was said. Where does, however, its unquestionable seduction come from?
First of all, from the atmosphere it creates. One of the two images, clearly antithetical, becomes harmonized. Nature is not hostile, it is knitting outside as naturally as grandmother does her spinning. Winter is just another season of the flow of time when the weather is sometimes smooth, sometimes stormy. Human concerns are consistent with it. And the result is a certain tranquility and peace of mind.
Secondly, grandmother and fireplace impel us to go back somewhere to an idealized, or idyllic, almost fairy tale past. Moreover, the quiet atmosphere is disturbed by a certain nostalgia for the times that are gone and are not coming back again. Were they for real? Have we really lived during those times? Does the new generation know the only from the memories of others? Even if we have not got to live during those times, we keep mourning after them as they are in contrast with our times which have since long ago decreed that "good weather" means only that we do not get wet, that there is no snow or mud on the road, that it does not keep us from going to work in time and back home as soon as possible, where double-glazed windows protect us.
That which, after all, turned out to be the significance of the poem is a kind of layered widening of the context, for which the two original images were just a pretext.
Even the photograph from which the poem began is only a pretext. The frost on the branch had to be doubled by a human image to create that atmosphere which leads us to regret the times when we could enjoy the frost without feeling gloomy about the impediments that it might have on the smooth running of the civilized world.
(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)