Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poem - "January" by John Updike


The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace.

The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

--John Updike

In his poem, John Updike uses vivid imagery to help readers imagine the sights and sounds of January. Imagery consists of words and phrases that appeal to any of the five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. To create vivid imagery, writers often use specific adjectives, nouns, and verbs. They may also use figurative language such as simile, metaphor, and personification. John Updike creates a metaphor with “trees of lace.” Can your explain what he means by this? How can trees be lace? Also, what does he mean by the final sentence, “The radiator/Purrs all day”?

Now it’s your turn. Create a line or two of vivid imagery describing a specific detail about a month. (Notice that you do not need to express the image in a complete sentence here.) Read the examples:

July – A yellow drink with an orange straw.
July – The lightening quilts the sky.
April – Like medicine droppers, the branch tips squeeze out glossy green buds.


  1. October- Yellow and orange leaves, in a brown paper bag.

  2. December - A steaming drink with floating marshmallows.

  3. July-Red, white and blue fireworks exploding into the sky.