By James Thomson
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
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 its evening ray,
Earth’s universal face, deep-hid and chill,
Is one wild 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,
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them.
The Redbreast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,
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,
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,
Though timorous of heart, and hard beset
By death in various forms, dark snares and dogs,
And more unpitying men, the garden seeks,
Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kind.
Eye the bleak heaven, and next the glistening earth,
With looks of dumb despair; then, sad dispersed,
Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow
Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind,
Baffle the raging year, and fill their pens
With food at will; lodge them below the storm,
And watch them strict; for from the bellowing east,
In this dire season, oft the whirlwind’s wing
Sweeps up the burden of whole wintry plains
In one wide waft, and o’er the hapless flocks,
Hid in the hollow of two neighboring hills,
The billowy tempest ‘whelms; till, upward urged,
The valley to a shining mountain swells,
Tipped with a wreath high-curling in the sky