Copenhagen: Roofs Under the Snow

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Copenhagen: Roofs Under the Snow

Denmark, late 19th century
Paintings
Oil on canvas
Frame (Framed): 7 × 9 × 1 1/2 in. (17.78 × 22.86 × 3.81 cm)
Gift of Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross (M.2013.150)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

LACMA commissioned poet Karen Holden to compose a response to this artwork. To hear her poem, Rooftops Under Snow, press the play button below or scroll down to read a transcript.

...
LACMA commissioned poet Karen Holden to compose a response to this artwork. To hear her poem, Rooftops Under Snow, press the play button below or scroll down to read a transcript.



Rooftops Under Snow
 

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
—Christina Rossetti
 

I.

Bright as folded paper hats
Upturned sailboats made on
Lazy summer days, the rooftops

Seem ready, but for the weight
Of snow, to wing themselves
Away. Tortured into sharp

Planes, white kites, rooftops cut
The silent smoke-dense sky into
A complex shape, sail through

Late afternoon when all is
Still before the night shoulders
Out the long, pale, winter day
 

II.

Somewhere not too far lies
Forest, or at least a stand of trees
Bare of leaves and laced with ice

Cold so fine it cracks the breath
Of wind into a filigree. No angles
Here, just the abstract design

Snow makes where it outlines
Burrows, stones and stream
Crochets the needles of the pine

Into a latticed rooftop against
A darkening sky, etched with the
Day’s last diamonds of light


III.

Hushed town prepares for sleep
Under rooftops iced into a graceful
Geometry. The woodland mutters

And creaks as new snow settles
On branches before the nighttime
Freeze. Lighted windows in a dark

Façade wink. A hundred years later
Real town, imaginary trees, become
A poet’s reverie. Painted Danish

Rooftops wing their way through
Time to mind, simple as paper
Airplanes tossed into a winter sky

 

© 2014 Karen Holden

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Bibliography

  • Marandel, J. Patrice. Abecedario: Collecting and Recollecting. Los Angeles: Art Catalogues; LACMA, 2017.