The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: winter

“The Frost” by Jones Very

The Frost.
By Jones Very
From Poems by Jones Very

THE frost is out, and in the open fields,
And late within the woods, I marked his track;
The unwary flower his icy fingers feels,
And at their touch the crispëd leaf rolls back;—
Look, how the maple o’er a sea of green
Waves in the autumnal wind his flag of red!
First struck of all the forest’s spreading screen,
Most beauteous, too, the earliest of her dead.
Go on: thy task is kindly meant by Him
Whose is each flower and richly covered bough;
And though the leaves hang dead on every limb,
Still will I praise his love, that early now
Has sent before this herald of decay
To bid me heed the approach of Winter’s sterner
day.

“Mid-Winter Day” by Mary Brotherton

Mid-Winter Day
Mary Brotherton
From Graham’s Magazine, March, 1854

Ah! dim this day, beloved, and dim thine eyes,
But perched in yon black fir
Bold redbreast blithely chirrups as he flies,
“Spring, Spring’s astir!”

Spring is astir—not in my sight, but thought,
This sunless twenty-first,
Because Despair its cry from Hope hath caught,
This is the worst!”

For every step adown the Alpine peak,
Leads to the laughing vale;
The snow itself yields flowers—beloved, thy cheek
Is but as pale.

“A Dream of Summer” by John Greenleaf Whittier

Although I might normally agree that Whittier’s delightful poem also has me looking forward to the splendid days of summer, I, alas, cannot. Upon moving to the South, I’ve found the Autumn and Winter seasons to be a delight, and the summers to consequently be miserable. Perhaps my dear readers will find greater solace in Whittier’s words—goodness knows he may have needed them himself. Because Whittier was born in Massachusetts, it is without a doubt he endured the bitter, biting, bleak, and blustery New England winters, as is also suggested in this poem—to which I say sit Deus custodiat te and manere calidum, dear Whittier!

A Dream of Summer
John Greenleaf Whittier

4th 1st month, 1847.
BLAND as the morning breath of June
The south-west breezes play;
And, through its haze, the winter noon
Seems warm as summer’s day.
The snow-plumed Angel of the North
Has dropped his icy spear;
Again the mossy earth looks forth,
Again the streams gush clear.

The fox his hillside cell forsakes,
The muskrat leaves his nook,
The bluebird in the meadow brakes
Is singing with the brook.
“Bear up, oh mother Nature!” cry
Bird, breeze, and streamlet free;
“Our winter voices prophesy
Of summer days to thee!”

So, in those winters of the soul,
By bitter blasts and drear
O’erswept from Memory’s frozen pole,
Will sunny days appear.
Reviving Hope and Faith, they show
The soul its living powers,
And how beneath the winter’s snow
Lie germs of summer flowers!

The Night is mother of the Day,
The Winter of the Spring,
And ever upon old Decay
The greenest mosses cling.
Behind the cloud the starlight lurks,
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
For God, who loveth all His works,
Has left His Hope with all!

“December” by Edmund Ollier

December
Edmund Ollier
From The Living Age, Vol. 40.

THE unseen Presence with the noiseless wing—
Time—has swept bare the bounteous earth at last,
And Summer’s green and crimson shows have past
From out men’s sight, like cloud-shapes when winds sing.

The seeds, which from the year’s great ripening
Were shaken, and within the warm earth cast,
Live but in future life, and slumbering fast,
Lie waiting for the vital breath of Spring.

And all is thoughtful, vacant, dusk and still;
A Sabbath pause, a resting everywhere,
A sleep and a thanksgiving, which now fill
The world, and make its bareness seem less bare.
The winds are laid, no sound is in the rill,
And not a murmur ripples the smooth air.

[An Excerpt from] “Winter” by James Thomson

[An excerpt from] Winter [from The Seasons]
James Thomson
From Graham’s Magazine, February, 1854.

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:
‘Tis brightness all, save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current. Low the woods
Bow their hoard head; and ere the languid sun,
Faint from the west, emits his evening ray,
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,
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
The red-breast, 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.

[Note: Graham’s Magazine, to my great annoyance, did not indicate any proper source or author for this poem, listing the author simply as “Thomson.” However, I sourced it back to this poem. You can read more about the author here.]