Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black Against the whiteness at their back. For such a world and such a night Most fitting that upwarming light, Which only seemeil where'er it fell To make the coldness visible..

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before ;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-niist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voiced elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
Aud on the glass the unmeaning beat
Op ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or wirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
Tu battled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat ;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed ;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall ;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons' straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
Anil, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October's wood.

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIEK.

WINTER NOON.

FROM "THE WINTER WALK AT NOON :"

"THE TASK," BOOK VI.

As night drew on, anıl, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art
The ragged brush ; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom ;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed ;
The Turks' heads on the andirons glowed ;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meauing of the nxiracle,
Whispered the old rhyme : Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea."

The night was winter in his roughest mood, The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon Upon the southern side of the slant hills, And where the woods fence off the northern

blast, The senson smiles, resigning all its rage, And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendor of the scene below.

Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ; And through the trees I view the enı battled tower, Whence all the music. I again perceive The soothing influence of the wasted strains, And settle in soft musings as I tread The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full ; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows Aashing cold and keen,

Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green

No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half sup-

pressed : Pleased with his solitude, and fitting light | From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes

WILLIAM COWPER.

From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees That tinkle in the withered leaves below. Bending to counterfeit a breeze ; Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft, Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew (harms more than silence. Meditation here But silvery mosses that downward grew; May think down hours to moments. Here the Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief heart

With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf; May give a useful lesson to the head,

Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
And Learning wiser grow without his books. For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and

here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops

And hung them thickly with diamond drops,
WINTER.

Which crystalled the beams of moon and sun,

And made a star of every one :
The day had been a calm and sunny day. No mortal builder's most rare device

And tinged with amber was the sky at even ; Could match this winter-palace of ice;
The fleecy clouds at length had rolled away,

"T was as if every image that mirrored lay And lay in furrows on the eastern heaven ; - In his depths serene through the summer day. The moon arose and shed a glimmering ray, Each fitting shadow of earth and sky, And round her orb a misty circle lay.

Lest the happy model should be lost,

Had been mimicked in fairy masonry The hoar-frost glittered on the naked heath, By the elfin builders of the frost.

The roar of distant winds was loud and deep, The dry leaves rustlod in each passing breath,

Within the hall are song and laughter, And the gay world was lost in quiet sleep.

| The checks of Christmas grow red and jolly, Such was the time when, on the landscape brown,

And sprouting is every corbel and rafter Through a December air the snow came down.

With the lightsome green of ivy and holly : The morning came, the dreary morn, at last,

Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide And showed the whitened waste. The shiv.

| Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide ;

The broad Aame-pennons droop and Map ering herd Lowed on the hoary meadow-ground, and fast

| And belly and tug as a fag in the wind ; Fell the light flakes upon the earth unstirred ;

. Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap, The forest firs with glittering snows o'erlaid

Hunted to death in its galleries bliud ;

And swift little troops of silent sparks, Stood like hoar priests in robes of white arrayed.

JOHN HOWARD BRYANT.

Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear, Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks

Like herds of startled deer.

WINTER PICTURES.

But the wind without was eager and sharp, FROM "THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL."

of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp, Dowx swept the chill wind from the mountain And rattles and rings peak,

The icy strings, From the snow five thousand summers old ;

Singing, in dreary monotone, On open wold and hill-top bleak

A Christmas carol of its own, It had gathered all the cold,

Whose burden still, as he might guess, And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek :/ Was -- “Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless !" It carried a shiver everywhere

The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare ;

As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch, The little brook heard it and built a roof

And he sat in the gateway and saw all night 'Neath which he could house him, winter-proof; i The great hall-firc, so cheery and bold, All night by the white stars' frosty gleams

Through the window-slits of the castle old, line his arches and matched his beams: Build out its piers of ruddy light Sleudler and clear were his crystal spars

Against the drist of the cold.
As the lashes of light that trim the stars :
He sculptured every summer delight

There was never a leaf on bush or tree,
In his halls and chambers out of sight;

The bare boughs rattled shudderingly ; Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt

The river was dumb and could not speak, Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt, ! For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun ;

A single crow on the tree-top bleak

| WHEN ICICLES HANG BY THE WALL. From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun; Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold,

FROM "LOVE'S LABOR 'S LOST," ACT V. SC. 2. As if her veins were sapless and old,

When icicles hang by the wall, And she rose up decrepitly

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, For a last dim look at earth and sea.

And Tom bears logs into the hall,
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.

And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped, and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,
WINTER SCENES.

To-who;

To-whit, to-who, a merry note,
FROM "THE SEASONS : WINTER."

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
The keener tempests rise ; and fuming dun
From all the livid east, or piercing north,

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
Thick clouds ascend ; in whose capacious womb And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
A vapory deluge lies, to snow congealed.

And birds sit brooding in the snow, Heavy they roll their fleecy world along;

And Marian's nose looks red and raw, And the sky saddens with the gathered storm. When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl, Through the hushed air the whitening shower Then nightly sings the staring owl, descends

To-who;
At first thin wavering ; till at last the flakes

To-whit, to-who, a inerry note,
Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
With a continual flow. The cherished fields

SHAKESPEARE Put on their winter robe of purest white. 'Tis brightness all ; save where the new snow

melts
Along the mazy current. Low the woods

THE SNOW-STORM.
Bow their hoar head ; and, ere the languid sun
Faint from the west emits his evening ray,

ANNOUNCED by all the trumpets of the sky,
Earth's universal face, deep hid and chill, Arrives the snow; and, driving o'er the fields,
Is one wide dazzling waste, that buries wide Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
The works of man. Drooping, the laborer-ox Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
Stands covered o'er with snow, and then demands And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven, The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon

sit
Which Providence assigns them. One alone, Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
The redbreast, sacred to the household gods, In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,

Come see the north-wind's masonry!
In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves Out of an unseen quarry, evermore
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted mian

Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
His annual visit. Half afraiil, he first

Curves his white bastions with projected roof Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights Round every windward stake or tree or door ; On the warm hearth ; then, hopping o'er the floor, Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work Eves all the smiling family askance,

So fanciful, so savage ; naught cares he And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is : | For number or proportion. Mockingly, Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths ; Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn ; Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare,

Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall, Though timorous of heart, and hard beset Maugre the farmer's sighs ; and at the gate By death in various forms, dark snares, and dogs, A tapering turret overtops the work. And more unpitying man, the garden seeks, And when his hours are numbered, and the world Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kind Is all his own, retiring as he were not, Eye the bleak heaven, and next the glistening Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art earth,

To mimic m slow structures, stone by stone, With looks of dumb despair; then, sad disperseil, Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work, Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow. The frolic architecture of the snow. JAMES THOMSON,

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Mange

[blocks in formation]

CHARLES GAMAGE EASTMAX.

The moon is full ; but her silver light

| For a while he strives with a wistful cry The storm dashes out with its wings to-night; To catch a glance from his drowsy eye, And over the sky from south to north

And wags his tail if the rude winds flap
Not a star is seen, as the wind comes forth The skirt of the buffalo over his lap,
In the strength of a mighty glee.

And whines when he takes no heed.
All day had the snow come down, — all day The wind goes down and the storm is o'er, -
As it never came down before ;

"T is the hour of midnight, past; And over the hills, at sunset, lay

The old trees writhe and bend no more Some two or three feet, or more ;

In the whirl of the rushing blast. The fence was lost, and the wall of stone; The silent moon with her peaceful light The windows blocked and the well-curbs gone ; Looks down on the hills with snow all white, The haystack had grown to a mountain lift, And the giant shadow of Caniel's Hum, And the wood-pile looked like a monster drift, The blasted pine and the ghostly stump, As it lay by the farmer's door.

Afar on the plain are cast. The night sets in on a world of snow,

But cold and dead by the hidden log While the air grows sharp and chill,

Are they who came from the town, — And the warning roar of a fearful blow

The man in his sleigh, and his faithful dog, Is heard on the distant hill;

And his beautiful Morgan brown, And the norther, see ! on the mountain peak In the wide snow-desert, far and grand, In his breath how the old trees writhe and shriek! With his cap on his head and the reins in his He shouts on the plain, ho-ho! ho-ho!

hand, He drives from his nostrils the blinding snow, The dog with his nose on his master's feet, And growls with a savage will.

And the mare half seen through the crusted sleet,

Where she lay when she floundered down). Such a night as this to be found abroad,

In the drifts and the freezing air,
Sits a shivering dog, in the field, by the road,

With the snow in his shaggy hair.
He shuts his eyes to the wind and growls ; O WINTER! WILT THOU NEVER GO!
He lifts his head, and moans and howls ;

i Û WINTER! wilt thou never, never, go? Then crouching low, from the cutting sleet,

O summer! but I weary for thy coming, His nose is pressed on his quivering feet,

Longing once more to hear the Luggie flow, Pray, what does the dog do there?

And frugal bees, laboriously humming. A farmer came from the village plain,

Now the east-wind diseases the infirm, But he lost the travelled way ;

And must crouch in corners froin rough weather ; And for hours he trod with might and main.

Sometimes a winter sunset is a charm, — A path for his horse and sleigh ;

When the fired clouds, compacted, blaze together, But colder still the cold winds blew,

And the large sun dips red behind the hills. And deeper still the deep drifts grew,

I, from my window, can behold this pleasure ; And his mare, a beautiful Morgan brown,

And the eternal moon, what time she fills At last in her struggles floundered down,

Her orb with argent, treading a soft measure, Where a log in a hollow lay.

With queenly motions of a bridal mood,

Through the white spaces of infinitude. In vain, with a neigh and a frenzied snort.

DAVIC GRAY. She plunged in the drifting snow, While her master urged, till his breath grew short, With a word and a gentle blow;

VIEW FROM THE EUGANEAN HILLS,* But the snow was deep, and the tugs were tight;

NORTH ITALY.
His hands were numb and had lost their might;
So he wallowed back to his half-filled sleigh,

Many a green isle needs must be
And strove to shelter himself till day,

In the deep wide sea of misery,

Or the mariner, worn and wan, With his coat and the buffalo.

Never thus could voyage on He has given the last faint jerk of the rein,

Day and night, and night and day, To rouse up his dying steed;

Drifting on his dreary way, And the poor dog howls to the blast in vain,

• The lonely mountains which surround what was once the re. For help in his master's need.

treat, and is now the sepulchre, of Petrarch.

« VorigeDoorgaan »