Winter’s Death

A Poem for Our Time

Winter Scene

As thus the snows arise; and foul, and fierce, 

All winter drives along the darkened air; 

In his own loose revolving fields, the swain 

Disaster’d stands; sees other hills ascend, 

Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, 

Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain: 

Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid 

Beneath the formless wild; but wanders on 

From hill to dale, still more and more astray, 

Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, 

Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of home 

Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth 

In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul! 

Winter Trees

What black despair, what horror fills his breast! 

When for the dusky spot, which fancy feign’d 

His tufted cottage rising through the snow, 

He meets the roughness of the middle waste 

Far from the track and blest abode of man, 

While round him might resistless closes fast, 

And every tempest, howling o’er his head, 

Renders the savage wildness more wild. 

Then throng the busy shapes into his mind, 

Of covered pits unfathomably deep, 

A dire descent! beyond the power of frost; 

Of faithless bogs; Of precipices huge 

Smoothed up with snow; and what is land, unknown, 

What water of the still unfrozen spring, In the loose marsh or solitary lake, 

Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. 

These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks 

Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, 

Thinking o’er all the bitterness of death, 

Mix’d with the tender anguish nature shoots 

Through the wrung bosom of the dying man—

His wife—his children—and his friends unseen. 

In vain for him the officious wife prepares 

The fire, fair, blazing, and the vestment warm. 

In vain his little children, peeping out 

Into the mingling storm, demand their sire 

With tears of artless innocence. Alas! 

Nor wife, nor children more shall he behold—

Nor friends, nor sacred home. On every nerve 

The deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense, 

And, o’er his inmost vitals creeping cold, 

Lays him along the snows, a stiffened corpse, 

Stretch’d out, and bleaching in the northern  blast.

Boreen in the Snow


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