I The rutted roads are all like iron; skies Are keen and brilliant; only the oak-leaves cling In the bare woods, or the hardy bitter-sweet; Drivers have put their sheepskin jackets on; And all the ponds are sealed with sheeted ice That rings with stroke of skate and hockey-stick, Or in the twilight cracks with running whoop. Bring in the logs of oak and hickory, And make an ample blaze on the wide hearth. Now is the time, with winter o'er the world, For books and friends and yellow candle-light, And timeless lingering by the settling fire.
While all the shuddering stars are keen with cold. II
Out from the silent portal of the hours, When frosts are come and all the hosts put on. Their burnished gear to march across the night And o'er a darkened earth in splendor shine, Slowly above the world Orion wheels His glittering square, while on the shadowy hill And throbbing like a sea-light through the dusk, Great Sirius rises in his flashing blue. Lord of the winter night, august and pure, Returning year on year untouched by time, To hearten faith with thine unfaltering fire, There are no hurts that beauty cannot ease, No ills that love cannot at last repair, In the victorious progress of the soul. III
Russet and white and gray is the oak wood In the great snow. Still from the North it comes, Whispering, settling, sifting through the trees, O'erloading branch and twig. The road is lost. Clearing and meadow, stream and ice-bound pond Are made once more a trackless wilderness In the white hush where not a creature stirs; And the pale sun is blotted from the sky. In that strange twilight the lone traveller halts To listen to the stealthy snowflakes fall. And then far off toward the Stamford shore, Where through the storm the coastwise liners go, Faint and recurrent on the muffled air, A foghorn booming through the Smother--hark! IV
When the day changed and the mad wind died down, The powdery drifts that all day long had blown Across the meadows and the open fields, Or whirled like diamond dust in the bright sun, Settled to rest, and for a tranquil hour The lengthening bluish shadows on the snow Stole down the orchard slope, and a rose light Flooded the earth with beauty and with peace. Then in the west behind the cedars black The sinking sun stained red the winter dusk With sullen flare upon the snowy ridge,-- As in a masterpiece by Hokusai, Where on a background gray, with flaming breath A scarlet dragon dies in dusky gold.