A Song of the Snow

A poem by John Hartley

Oh the snow, - the bright fleecy snow!
Isn't it grand when the north breezes blow?
Isn't it bracing the ice to skim o'er,
With a jovial friend or the one you adore?
How the ice crackles, and how the skates ring,
How friends flit past you like birds on the wing.
How the gay laugh ripples through the clear air,
How bloom the roses on cheeks of the fair!
Few are the pleasures that life can bestow,
To equal the charms of the beautiful snow.

Oh, the snow,-the pitiless snow!
Cruel and cold, as the shelterless know;
Huddled in nooks on the mud or the flags,
Wrapp'd in a few scanty, fluttering rags.
Gently it rests on the roof and the spire,
And filling the streets with its slush and the mire,
Freezing the life out of poor, starving souls,
Wild whirling and drifting as Boreas howls.
Hard is their lot who have no where to go,
To shelter from storm and the merciless snow.

Oh, the snow,-the treacherous snow!
Up in a garret on pallet laid low!
Dying of hunger, - oh, sad is her fate; -
No food in the cupboard, - no fire in the grate.
A widening streak of frost crystals are shed,
Through the window's broke pane on the comfortless bed,
And the child that she clasps to her chill milkless breast,
Has ended its troubles, and gone to its rest.
Husbandless, - childless, and friendless. - Go slow, -
She sleeps with her babe, and their shroud is the snow.

Oh, the snow, the health-giving snow!
Setting the cheeks of the children aglow,
Father and mother, - well fed and well clad,
Join in the frolic like young lass and lad.
Little they dream of the suffering and woe,
Of those shivering outcasts with nowhere to go.
Then they read from their paper with quivering breath,
Accounts of poor wand'rers found frozen to death,
And their hearts with pure pity perchance overflow,
But it vanishes soon, like the beautiful snow.

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