THE FIRST SNOW-FALL.
The snow had begun in the
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch-deep with pearl.
[Footnote 16: The volume containing this poem was reverently dedicated “To the ever fresh and happy memory of our little Blanche.”]
From sheds new-roofed with
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow, 10
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, 15
Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood. 20
Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.
Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.
I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow, 30
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.
And again to the child I whispered,
“The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father 35
Alone can make it fall!”
[Footnote 17: The marble of Carrara, Italy, is noted for its purity.]
Then, with eyes that saw not,
I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow. 40
What gnarled stretch, what
depth of shade, is his!
There needs no crown to mark the forest’s king;
How in his leaves outshines full summer’s bliss!
Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their tribute bring,
Which he with such benignant royalty 5
Accepts, as overpayeth what is lent;
All nature seems his vassal proud to be,
And cunning only for his ornament.