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All, dropping swiftly, or settling slow,
Meet, and are still in the depths below;

Flake after flake
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.

Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,

Come floating downward in airy play, Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd

That whiten by night the Milky Way;
There broader and burlier masses fall;
The sullen water buries them all,-

Flake after flake,–
All drowned in the dark and silent lake.

And some, as on tender wings they glide

From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray, Are joined in their fall, and, side by side,

Come clinging along their unsteady way;
As friend with friend, or husband with wife,
Makes hand in hand the passage of life;

Each mated flake
Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake.

Lo! while we are gazing, in swifter haste

Stream down the snows, till the air is white, As, myriads by myriads madly chased,

They fling themselves from their shadowy height.
The fair, frail creatures of middle sky,
What speed they make, with their grave so nigh;

Flake after flake
To lie in the dark and silent lake.

I see in thy gentle eyes a tear;

They turn to me in sorrowful thought; Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear,

Who were for a time, and now are not;
Like these fair children of cloud and frost,
That glisten a moment and then are lost,-

Flake after flake,–
All lost in the dark and silent lake.

Midwinter

1349

Yet look again, for the clouds divide;

A gleam of blue on the water lies; And far away, on the mountain-side,

A sunbeam falls from the opening skies;
But the hurrying host that flew between
The cloud and the water no more is seen;

Flake after flake,
At rest in the dark and silent lake.

William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878]

MIDWINTER
THE speckled sky is dim with snow,
The light flakes falter and fall slow;
Athwart the hill-top, rapt and pale,
Silently drops a silvery veil;
And all the valley is shut in
By flickering curtains gray and thin.
But cheerily the chickadee
Singeth to me on fence and tree;
The snow sails round him as he sings,
White as the down of angels' wings.

I watch the slow flakes as they fall
On bank and brier and broken wall;
Over the orchard, waste and brown,
All noiselessly they settle down,
Tipping the apple-boughs, and each
Light quivering twig of plum and peach.
On turf and curb and bower-roof
The snow-storm spreads its ivory woof;
It paves with pearl the garden-walk;
And lovingly round tattered stalk
And shivering stem its magic weaves
A mantle fair as lily-leaves.

The hooded beehive, small and low,
Stands like a maiden in the snow;
And the old door-slab is half hid
Under an alabaster lid.

All day it snows: the sheeted post
Gleams in the dimness like a ghost;
All day the blasted oak has stood
A muffled wizard of the wood;
Garland and airy cap adorn
The sumach and the wayside thorn,
And clustering spangles lodge and shine
In the dark tresses of the pine.

The ragged bramble, dwarfed and old,
Shrinks like a beggar in the cold;
In surplice white the cedar stands,
And blesses him with priestly hands.

Still cheerily the chickadee
Singeth to me on fence and tree:
But in my inmost ear is heard
The music of a holier bird;
And heavenly thoughts, as soft and white
As snow-flakes, on my soul alight,
Clothing with love my lonely heart,
Healing with peace each bruised part,
Till all my being seems to be
Transfigured by their purity.

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827

A GLEE FOR WINTER HENCE, rude Winter! crabbed old fellow, Never merry, never mellow! Well-a-day! in rain and snow What will keep one's heart aglow? Groups of kinsmen, old and young, Oldest they old friends among; Groups of friends, so old and true That they seem our kinsmen too; i These all merry all together Charm away chill Winter weather.

What will kill this dull old fellow?
Ale that's bright, and wine that's mellow!

The Death of the Old Year

1351

Dear old songs for ever new;
Some true love, and laughter too;
Pleasant wit, and harmless fun,
And a dance when day is done.
Music, friends so true and tried,
Whispered love by warm fireside,
Mirth at all times all together,
Make sweet May of Winter weather.

Alfred Domett (1811-1887]

THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR
Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year, you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,

Old year, you shall not die.
He lieth still, he doth not move;
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above,
He gave me a friend, and a true true-love,
And the New-year will take 'em away.
Old year, you must not go;
So long as you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,

Old year, you shall not go.
He frothed his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But though his eyes are waxing dim,
And though his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.

Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die, across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.

Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year, blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps; the light burns low;
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.

Shake hands before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you.
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone.
Close up his eyes; tie up his chin;
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892]

DIRGE FOR THE YEAR
ORPHAN hours, the year is dead,

Come and sigh, come and weep!
Merry hours, smile instead,

For the year is but asleep.
See, it smiles as it is sleeping,
Mocking your untimely weeping.

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