It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Wallace Stevens, 13 ways of looking at a blackbird
Our working lives are long, and yet our culture’s celebration of youth is so strong: the energetic, the passionate, the believers and the ambitious displace those who know better, and who are resented for knowing better. After a certain time, all bureaucrats are passed over, treated like yesterday’s failed lieutenants, and pushed into some dark corner where they wait out the evening all afternoon long.
There they sit in the cedar-limbs, bristling against the snow. Cold, alone, forgotten, the despised part of their accursed kind.
How many years might this long winter snow continue? I ask myself this question since surely this is now my fate. But am I not the same blackbird whose mobile eye chased down the still world? Am I not the same blackbird who performed his cameo parts perfectly in the theatre of power? Do I not still have visions? Can I not still sing of innuendoes and inflections? Can I not be one with any man or any woman? Fly in green light, or swoop behind a glass coach in Connecticut?
I am. And the long years that I have to wait still in these cedar-limbs will be as truthfully, beautifully the way of a bureaucrat as the other 12, or as many more as you might imagine, manifestations. If the snow that I know will be coming does not kill me, it will make my winter’s mind stronger.