Poetry for Winter

Winter Coming

A week or so since, we were forcibly reminded of the following, by Hood:

Summer’s gone and over!
Fogs are falling down;
And with russet tinges,
Autumn’s doing brown.

Boughs are daily rifled
By the gusty thieves,
And the Book of Nature
Getteth short of leaves.

Round the tops of houses,
Swallows, as they flit,
Give, like yearly tenants,
Notices to quit.

Skies, of fickle temper,
Weep by turns and laugh —
Night and Day together,
Taking half and half.

So September endeth —
Cold and most perverse;
But the months that follow,
Sure will pinch us worse!

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Nov 17, 1845

A.S. McDonald.

Athwart the skies
The red bird flies
Through snow flakes light,
In soft disguise
The landscape lies
Serenely white.

What gorgeous dyes
Delight the eyes
When, flecked with white
Athwart the skies,
The red bird flies
Through fields of light.

Cambridge Jeffersonian (Cambridge, Ohio) Jan 8, 1885


COLD! — bitterly cold!
The moon is bright
And the snow is white
Beautiful to behold.
But the wind is howling
Like hungry prowling
Wolves on the wintry wold!
Cold! — bitterly cold!

My shawl is ragged and old —
The hearth deserted and dark,
Gladdened by never a spark;
And my only light
Is the pitiless white,
That the moonbeams spill
Silvery chill,
Cruelly — splendidly bright,
This frosty winter’s night —
Cold! — bitterly cold!

Babe, more precious than gold,
Rest, little one, rest!
Sleep my own one,
Slumber, thou lone one,
Clasped to thy mother’s breast,
Though thin and wasted her form,
Her arms shall cufold
And shield thee from cold,
For the love in her breast
For the love in her breast is warm
Though the chill night breeze
May the life-blood freeze —
Cold! — bitterly cold!

Cold! — bitterly cold!
My eyes are dim,
And my senses swim,
And racking pains are in every limb, —
I am prematurely old!
Foodless and tireless,
Almost attireless,
Weapt in rags so scanty and thin
With bones that stare through the colorless skin,
Weary and worn
Tattered and torn,
If I should wish I had ne’er been born —
Tell me, is it a sin?
Cold world! — bitterly cold!

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Dec 16, 1871


NOW Autumn’s variegated scenes
Are hast’ning to a close’
And soon the farmer will enjoy
The Winter’s calm repose.
No more he’ll turn the verdant globe
‘Till Spring renews the plain,
Nor plant with care the swelling corn,
Nor sow the yellow grain.

The Summer’s bright and scorching sun,
And sultry breeze are past,
Follow’d by autumn’s feeble rays,
And Winter’s chilling blast.
The various fruits of summer months
And sober autumn’s reign,
Now meet no more the wand’ring eye
Or variegate the plain.

From thinking on the winter’s blast,
The Farmer’s mind recoils
Back on these pleasing scenes, now past,
His various summer toils.
How in the pleasant month of June,
When nature all is gay,
He mow’d with care the curling grass,
And made the fragrant hay.

Or when the yellow waving grain
Proclaim’d the harvest near,
When blythsome steps he paced the plain,
And view’d each golden ear;
Which, when matur’d, by sturdy swains,
A sickle each in hand,
With rushing noise, and clamorour mirth,
Was reap’d and bound in bands.

Then to the barn was safe convey’d,
The Winter’s den supply,
Secure from near approaching rain
That threatened in the sky.
Now harvest’s o’er and Phoebus’ beams
With lessen’d ardour shine;
Autumn steals in with grave approach
On summer’s slow decline.

To plow the spacious fallow-field
And break the stubborn soil,
He yokes the patient, sturdy team,
And whistles as he toils.
Thus whistling o’er the furrow’d field,
His though  with pleasure dwells
On the next harvest’s plentious yield,
‘Till hope his bosom swells.

Now noon-day’s glimmering, gloomy sun,
And evening’s chilling air,
And yellow fading nature’s face,
Proclaim the autumn here.
The spacious fields where lowing herds,
In richest pasture stray’d
In summer months, are now forsook;
Their verdure all decay’d.

The butter-firkin, long ‘ere this,
By careful house-wife fill’d,
For winter’s store, shall rich supplies
Or yellow treasure yield.
Matured by genial summer suns,
And tinged with gold around,
The apple from the bended bough,
Comes rattling to the ground:

Which roguish lads and lasses coy,
Trigg’d up so neat and spry,
Collected into evening clubs,
Now peel and cut, to dry,
Or to extract their precious juice,
The mill and press are plied;
Which soon or late in earthen mug,
Shall cheer the bright fire-side.

Or else condens’d to whiskey’s form —
That wonder-working drink,
Which drowns dull care in frantick mirth,
And e’en makes numb-heads think —
It sparkles in the shining glass;
Here reader take a thought:
[Sip you too oft this poisonous draught?
If so — you’ll come to nought.]

The grey-clad cornfield’s rustling noise,
Declares the husking near;
Depending from the loaded stalks,
Are seen the numerous ears.
The husker now, (with peg in hand)
Stalk slowly through the field;
Asunder cleft each stubborn husk
Its yellow treasure yields.

Then sounds the axe among forest oaks,
Fit winter’s fire-wood deem’d;
Homeward the loaded wagon hies,
Drawn by the sturdy team.
Surrounded thus, with bounteous store,
John would not wish to roam;
Content, he with his wife and friends,
Enjoys the sweet of HOME.

Dec. 1814

Ohio Repository, The (Canton, Ohio)Nov 21,> 1816



When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the white-thorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladdens these deep solitudes.

On the gray maple’s crusted bark,
Its tender shoots the hoar-frost nips;
Whilst in the frozen fountain — hark! —
His piercing  beak the bittern dips.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke —
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shully the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out the mellow lay;
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods, within your crowd;
And gathered winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds, my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year —
I listen, and it cheers me long.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Feb 17,  1845


The springtime came — the springtime went
With shimmering cloud and shiny weather,
The golden glory of June was spent,
On hills and fields we roamed together,
We walked through autumn’s purple haze,
The future’s dream of bliss forestalling,
And shuddering thought of winter days,
With snows a falling.

For earth was all so wondrous fair,
And heaven smiled down so blue above it,
Each wandering breath of balmy air
But bade us learn anew to love it.
What wonder if with all so bright,
And wild birds through the woodland calling,
We sighed to think of a winter’s night,
And snow a falling.

But when at last the world was dressed
In shining robes of ice-maid gleaming,
And calm white silence lulled to rest
The pale, dead flowers beneath it dreaming,
Behold we woke to find made true
The hope our hearts had been forestalling,
And life grew fairer than we knew
While snows were falling.

Ah, well! the days of youth fly fast,
Their suns grow dim, their blossoms wither,
And all the dreams that made our past
Fly fast and far, we know not wither;
But when we tread life’s wintry slope,
We hear again their voices calling,
And Memory clasps the hand of Hope,
While snows are falling.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 13, 1872

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