Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
III. The Seasons
Winter Scenes
James Thomson (1700–1748)
 
From “The Seasons: Winter”

  THE KEENER tempests rise; and fuming dun
From all the livid east, or piercing north,
Thick clouds ascend; in whose capacious womb
A vapory deluge lies, to snow congealed.
Heavy they roll their fleecy world along;        5
And the sky saddens with the gathered storm.
Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends
At first thin wavering; till at last the flakes
Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day
With a continual flow. The cherished fields        10
Put on their winter robe of purest white.
’T is brightness all; save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current. Low the woods
Bow their hoar head; and, ere the languid sun
Faint from the west emits his evening ray,        15
Earth’s universal face, deep hid and chill,
Is one wide dazzling waste, that buries wide
The works of man. Drooping, the laborer-ox
Stands covered o’er with snow, and then demands
The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven,        20
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
The redbreast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,        25
In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man
His annual visit. Half afraid, he first
Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
On the warm hearth; then, hopping o’er the floor,        30
Eyes all the smiling family askance,
And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is:
Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs
Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds
Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare,        35
Though timorous of heart, and hard beset
By death in various forms, dark snares, and dogs,
And more unpitying man, the garden seeks,
Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kind
Eye the bleak heaven, and next the glistening earth,        40
With looks of dumb despair; then, sad dispersed,
Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow.
 
 
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