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And here and there,
Made by a sudden mingling as they fall,
There comes a softer lullaby than all,
Swept in upon the universal prayer.
Mine eyes and heart are troubled with a motion
Of music like the moving waves of ocean,
When, out of hearing, o'er the harbour-bars
Theyy sigh toward the moon and jasper stars.
The tiny squadrons waver down and thicken,
Gathering numbers as they fly,
Blinding the sky,
And nearing earth their thick-set ranks they quicken,
And swim in swarms to die!
The music comes and goes and comes again,
And flutters forward to a felt refrain,
Whereon it faints away in pauses holy,
Ere dropping to the Soul and rising slowly,
It trembles outward through the blood and brain.

But now, the clouds are winnow├Ęd away;
The sky above is grey as glass, below
The feeble twilight of the dreamy day
Nets the long landskip hush'd beneath the snow.
The arrowy frosts sting keenly as I stray
Along the rutted lane, or broad highway,
Past wind-swept hedges sighing sharp and clear,
Where half the sweetly changeful English year
The scented summer loves to gleam and glow.
The new-lain snowy carpet, ankle-deep,
Crumbles beneath my footsteps as I pass,
Revealing scanty blades of frozen grass;
On either side the chirping sparrows leap,
And here and there a robin, friendly now,
From naked bough to bough.
That snow-clad homestead in the river's arm
Is haunted with the noisy rooks that fly
Between its bending beeches and the sky,
And hailing fast for yonder fallow farm,
A solitary linnet plunges by.
Light-muffled winds arising high among
White hills deep brooding in their winter rest,
Bear from the eastern winter to the west
The muttered diapason of a song
Made by the thunder on a mountain's breast.

Judge not King Winter as the easy do,
Nor wrong him from a Christmas point of view.
Rush out and meet him in his native air,
Shaking the forests, locking up the flood,
Stand 'neath his throne of mountains bleak and bare,
Flanked by a round red sun, as I have stood:
When the dim nights grow long and frozen air
Takes burning motion down the tingling blood;
When little viewless fingers night and day
Embroider stainless flowers of rare device
On cottage panes to mimic flowers of May,
And listening at the porch, I seem to hear
The hush'd heart of the dumb and dawning Year
Beating for summer under ribs of ice!

Nature is always lovely, ever kind,
An ever-new Messiah sad or sweet,
And changes as she gladdens
Strange as the fitful changes of the Mind,
Which finds a girlond even at Sorrow's feet,
And makes an unborn pleasure when it saddens.
Not only Spring, with dew-bespangled hair,
And eyes that startle light from tears, is fair;
Not only the voluptuous-bosom'd June,
Sitting embower'd 'mid roses and green leaves,
Nor Autumn sighing under stars and moon
'Mid her drain'd vintage and her slanted sheaves.
The gruff swift season of the snow and frost
Is part of the eternal Pentecost
When Beauty smiles or grieves.
Nature is always lovely, like the Soul;
She, like that hope of heaven, laughs or broods,
And owns no blind control
For she whose metaphor our life surrounds,
Is moulded of as many changeful moods
As harmony of sounds!

The sun is hanging in a purple globe,
Mid yellow mists that stir with silver breath;
The little landskip slumbers, white as death,
Amid its naked fields and woody wolds,
Wearing the winter as a stainless robe,
Low trailing in a fall of fleecy folds.
By pasture-gates the mottled cattle swarm,
Thick'ning the misty air, with piteous eyes
Fixed ever on the tempest-breeding skies,
And watch the lingering traces of the storm.
A feeble sunbeam kisses and illumes
Yon whitened spire that hints a hidden town,
And flickering for a space it darkens down
Above the silence of forgotten tombs.

I gain the shoulder of a plantain now,
A fledgling's flutter from a small hill's brow.
I see the hamlet, half a mile below,
With dripping gables and with darkened panes,
And watch the urchins in the narrow lanes
Below the school-house, shouting in the snow.
The whitened coach comes swiftly round the road
With horns to which a dozen hills reply,
And rattling onward with its laughing load,
Halts steaming at the little hostelry.
Hard by the lonely woodman pants and glows,
And wrapt in leather-stockings to the thigh,
Toils with an icicle beneath his nose.
In yonder field an idle shepherd blows
His frozen fingers into tingling flame;
The gaunt old farmer as he canters by,
Reins in to greet the country clowns by name;
That chesnut pony in the yellow fly
Draws the plump parson and his leaner dame.

I loiter down the road, and feel the ground
Like iron 'neath my heel; the noisy air
Has fallen in a swound.
Frost follows in its path without a sound,
And plies his nimble fingers everywhere,
Under my eyelids and beneath my hair.
Yon mountain dons once more its helm of cloud,
The air grows dark and dim as if in wonder;
Once more the heaven is winnow'd, and the crowd
Of silken fairies flock with music under
A sky that flutters like a wind-swept shroud.

Through gloomy dimbles, clad with new-fall'n snow,
Back to my little cottage home I go.
But once again I roam by field and flood,
Stung into heat where hoar-frosts melt and bite,
What time the fog-wrapt sun drops red as blood,
And the white star is tingling into sight.

Down the cold darkness of the whistling dell,
Past rifts of frozen marl and trodden clay,
The little river that I love so well,
Moans in a torrent on its seaward way.
Why haste you, little river, so to-night,
From buried boulder-glens where winter raves?
Have you some summer message, sweet and bright,
For Ocean, where she trails her long sea waves
Of green and shadowy purple splash'd with light?
Art thou a messenger of Spring, between
The olden mountains and their restless daughter?