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SKETCH OF A WINTER SCENE.
THE snow fell all night long like thistle-down,
Undriven by any wind: the snake-wreathed urns Upon the terrace were sublimed with snow; The lawn lay blank and dazzling; and throughout The bleak bare length of the antique ash-trees' arms Smooth strips of snow in lines refulgent ran, With the dark russet bark in contrast viewed, Showing like bands of light glancing along The limbs of mail-clad warriors: yews, and firs, Though changed in hue, retained a show of grief, And bowed beneath the sluggish wintry mass, Low feathering downwards, like the cold white plumes Upon a maiden's hearse who died for love. The holly's fenceful leaves and scarlet fruit Were lost beneath the clustering spheres of snow: The oak put on a foliage new and strange That with the play and fashion of its boughs Harmoniously accorded; and the birch Drooped as in summer, but in light festoons
Of silver, worn for graceful masquerade:
Such varied metamorphose, unforeseen,
Relieved the dim confusion of the woods.
I feared the rising of a breath of air
That might have marred the picture; in my heart
I chid the red-breast, who from spray to spray
Hopping, a tiny avalanche shook down,
That broke the charm where all was fairy-land.
N the green quickset alley found,
Cautious I peep above the ground.
A tranquil, soft, and silvery grace
Illuminates my downcast face ;
Like that of some secluded maid
Of manhood's liberal
Yet though my bashful head hangs low,
No blush o'erspreads my sickly brow;
For I am pale, and weak, and mild,
Bald gray-beard Winter's latest child ;
And rightly doth my chilling name
My parentage and birth proclaim.
And Spring adopts me for her own;
Gives me her joyous train to lead,
Where flowers on flowers in turn succeed;
And Nature's voice begins the song,
Which grateful hearts through six fair months prolong.
SCENE IN THE COUNTY OF WICKLOW.
BORDERING the mountainous and wild way-side
Renowned in song and legendary lore,
I saw a fragment huge of stubborn rock,
And hard by stood a cabin: each of each
Appeared at first the very counterpart;
Alike in outline, magnitude, and hue;
Twin offsprings of th' in hospitable soil.
The rock lay sullen in its ruggedness,
Cold as a pinnacle of northern ice;
Massive, obtuse, and fostering nought of life,
Save lichens, barely classed with living things,
Yet by their hues redeemed from nothingness.
But the low cabin stood on cherished ground:
The stir of life was there ; and we beheld
The azure peat-smoke curling silently
From what served as a chimney; on our ears
Light footsteps fell, with voices not a few,
That told of amity, domestic cares,
And all the tender charities of home.
And even that mass of rock, whose presence seemed
Too coldly savage for companionship,
Yields no unwelcome service, casting shade
Profoundly grateful to the wearied one
Returning from the peat-bog or the field,
To taste repose, and bless the hour of noon,
That by its shadow-line is rudely marked:
Oft in the winter checks the driving storm ;
And by the reflex of the sun brings down
Some genial comfort from the frosty air,
To charm the rigours of that desert place,
And breathe around tranquillity and joy.