Winter that hath few friends yet numbers those
Of spirit erect and delicate of eye;
All may applaud sweet Summer, with her rose,
And Autumn, with her banners in the sky;
But when from the earth's cheek the colour goes,
Her old adorers from her presence fly.
So cold her bosom seems, such icy glare
Is in her eyes, while on the frozen mere
The shrill ice creaks in the congealing air;
Where is the lover that shall call her dear,
Or the devotion that shall find her fair?
The white-robed widow of the vanished year.
Yet hath she loveliness and many flowers,
Dreams hath she too and tender reveries,
Tranced mid the rainbows of her gleaming bowers,
Or the hushed temples of her pillared trees;
Summer has scarce such soft and silent hours,
Autumn has no such antic wizardries.
Yea! he that takes her to his bosom knows,
Lost in the magic crystal of her eyes,
Upon her vestal cheek a fairer rose,
What rapture and what passionate surprise
Awaits his kiss beneath her mask of snows,
And what strange fire beneath her pallor lies.
Beauty is hers all unconfused of sense,
Lustral, austere, and of the spirit fine;
No cloudy fumes of myrrh and frankincense
Drug in her arms the ecstasy divine;
But stellar awe that kneels in high suspense,
And hallowed glories of the inner shrine.
And, for the idle summer, in our blood
Pleasures hath she of rapid tingling joy,
With ruddy laughter 'neath her frozen hood,
Purging our mortal metal of alloy,
Stern benefactress of beatitude,
Turning our leaden age to girl and boy.