Slow sinks the golden sun behind the woods,
The shivering woods of winter. The red flush,
That blooms along the cloud-land world above,
Tinting the floating clouds with hues of rose,
Rests on the naked woods, and gilds their tops.
The chestnut groves, that fringe the upland slopes,
And willows light that skirt the frozen stream,
Black alders springing from the oozy marsh,
And the lithe silver poplars, slim and tall,
Touch'd by the slanting beam, are fair to see.
Deep lies the snow in many a drifted heap
O'er turfy mounds beneath the lifeless woods;
Their rugged boles are sprinkled with the flakes,
Or crusted o'er with adamantine ice,
That like a silver armor clasps them round;
Each leafless twig and sapless spray is gemm'd
With jewels crystalline, that shift and shine
And twinkle as the murmuring breeze sweeps by.
'Tis like some grotto in enchanted land,
Where tricksy elves and fairies hold their court,
And in their frolic merriment adorn
The haunted precincts with ice jewelry,
Twining their wreaths of pearl and amethyst
And crystal garlands to bedeck the haunt.
Mute lies the shining river in its bed,
And mute the glistening lake outspreads its sheet.
The foamy waterfall of summer-time
That down the mossy rocks its torrent pour'd,
Freshening the drooping ferns and rosy blooms,
Now grim in icy death, rests motionless.
The white cascade that turn'd the miller's wheel
And with its churning foam made endless din,
Fix'd by the frost's enchantment, moves no more.
The white, untrampled fields immense extend
Their crested slopes to th' horizon's edge,
Trod by no cropping herd of browsing flock,
Lifeless save when the woodman's weary team,
Laden with forest spoil, plough thro' the waste.
The piping quail no longer skims the space,
Nor comes the limping hare or prowling fox,
For all have vanished into hemlock woods.
But down the country road, with hedges lin'd,
The farmer opes the way with cumbrous sledge;
And there the merry sleighs, with jingling bells,
And prancing team, and song and laughter loud,
Cheer with their jocund life the barren scene.
Though shapeless drifts beset the cottage home,
And white on roof and gable rests the snow,
Yet youthful faces beam around the hearth,
And merry jests prolong the winter night,
And viol's tinkle, and the dancer's feet.