Winter Days

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

"These winter days," my father says,
"When mornings blow and bite and freeze,
And hens sit cackling in the straw,
Stiff with the frost as gates that wheeze,
Remind me of my youth when, raw,
The day broke and, beneath the trees,
Wild winds would twist,
I went to work with axe and saw,
Or stopped to blow my mittened fist.

"These winter noons," my father croons,
"When eggs, the hens have hardly laid,
Crack open with the cold; and cows
Drink through the hole a heel has made,
Some rustic in his huddled blouse,
Bring back the noons when, with a spade,
Down on the farm,
I pathed the snow from barn to house,
And beat my arms to keep me warm.

"These winter nights," so he recites,
"With those old nights are right in tune,
When cocks crew out the hours till dawn
And all night long the owlet's croon
Quavered and quivered far withdrawn;
And cold beneath the freezing moon
The old fox-hound
Bayed where the icicles glittered wan,
And all the old house slumbered sound."

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