Winter


A tremendous winter country this,
There could not be presented a more chilling, arctic, grim-extended, depressing scene.
I mark the long winters and the
isolation,
Stay in the house more than usual, on account of the bitter cold.

The sun was low in the west one winter day, a gray discouraged sky overhead,
In the driving storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow,
The winter-day declining, the short last daylight of December.
I too watched the Twelfth-month seagulls, saw them high in the air,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south.

I last winter observed the snow on a spree with the northwest wind,
The transparent shadows filled everywhere with leisurely falling, slightly slanting, curiously sparse but very large flakes of snow,
Every snowflake lay where it fell, the multitudinous leaves and branches piled, bulging white, defined by edge-lines of emerald.
A faint winter vapor hung a fitting accompaniment around and over the endless whitish spread,
And it put me out of conceit of fences and imaginary lines,
Cheerily braving the winter, the  scenery of the snows and ice welcome to me,
A heavy snowstorm blocking up everything, and keeping us in,
But souls, hearts, thoughts, unloos’d.

The winter-grain falls in the ground,
The sun shines, but sharp cold and the wind whistling,
The earth hard frozen, and a stiff glare of ice over the pond.
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees,
The maple woods, the crisp February days and the sugar-making.

Sounds of the winter too,
The winter snows, the sleigh bells,
The broken ice in the river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide,
The occasional crunch and cracking of the ice-glare congeal’d over the creek, as it gives way to the sunbeams—sometimes with low sigh—sometimes with indignant, obstinate tug and snort.
Winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,
Many a distant strain from nearer field, barn, house,
The whispering air—even the mute crops, garner’d apples, corn.

Here it is too cold for comfort,
The state of the weather, and my cold, etc., have rather blocked me from having my usual enjoyment, so far—
But I expect to make up for it by and by.

Today feels like a precursor of spring, so fresh and sunny,
Soon shall the winter’s foil be here,
Soon shall these icy ligatures unbind and melt—a little while,
And air, soil, wave, suffused shall be in softness, bloom, and growth.
Perennial roots, tall leaves, O the winter shall not freeze you, delicate leaves,
Every year shall you bloom again, out from where you retired you shall emerge again.

NEXT: Spring