The Winter Wind, the wind of death,
Who knocked upon my door,
Now through the keyhole entereth,
Invisible and hoar:
He breathes around his icy breath
And treads the flickering floor.
I heard him, wandering in the night,
Tap at my windowpane;
With ghostly fingers, snowy white,
I heard him tug in vain,
Until the shuddering candlelight
Did cringe with fear and strain.
The fire, awakened by his voice,
Leapt up with frantic arms,
Like some wild babe that greets with noise
Its father home who storms,
With rosy gestures that rejoice,
And crimson kiss that warms.
Now in the hearth he sits and, drowned
Among the ashes, blows;
Or through the room goes stealing round
On cautious-creeping toes,
Deep-mantled in the drowsy sound
Of night that sleets and snows.
And oft, like some thin faery-thing,
The stormy hush amid,
I hear his captive trebles sing
Beneath the kettle's lid;
Or now a harp of elfland string
In some dark cranny hid.
Again I hear him, implike, whine,
Cramped in the gusty flue;
Or knotted in the resinous pine
Raise goblin cry and hue,
While through the smoke his eyeballs shine,
A sooty red and blue.
At last I hear him, nearing dawn,
Take up his roaring broom,
And sweep wild leaves from wood and lawn,
And from the heavens the gloom,
To show the gaunt world lying wan,
And morn's cold rose a-bloom.