Poetry Friday: Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier


It’s been sleeting here all the night before and into this afternoon. Snow and wind are predicted for later this evening and into the night.  Every tree and branch is coated with a layer of glass, and the barnyard gate needs a mug of hot water before the latch is willing to yield.   I managed to get the sheep out of the big barn and up to the shelter of the pole barn for the day, and I can see them now, sitting all lined up in front of their now-empty hayrack, gazing out at the valley in serene rumination.  Even Bowie, immune to bad weather in her bear-like coat, is staying in the barn for a change.

Other than the steady thrum of sleet against windowpanes, and the occasional whoosh as snow slides off the roof, it is quiet.  I have not seen a single car make its way up or down the valley, or the hill where the farm sits.  I have books, embroidery, and knitting by my side, and no other plans than to stay by the fire while the storm does what it must do.  Being snowbound has its gifts.

Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier
All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary voiced elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

6 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier

  1. “I have books, embroidery, and knitting by my side, and no other plans than to stay by the fire while the storm does what it must do. Being snowbound has its gifts.” I am jealous. And “snow-hung oak.” Beautiful poem. Enjoy your storm!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I wrote you on Instagram, I have enjoyed being in today, just missing the fireplace. However, I did go out because I love the weather & it isn’t ice-bound like you, but it is still snowing a tiny bit! I do love the idea of being ‘Snowbound’, but know there are those for whom it’s not so nice. Enjoy all your lovely animals, then back in for the fire & the books, Tara!


  3. Glad you are toasty warm with books and poetry and knitting to ride out the storm. The Whittier poem is perfect. Now if we would just get a good snowstorm once this winter.


  4. I’m missing those snow storms this year. Yes, we did enjoy brief spells of one-inch layers of snow, but we’ll have to drive up into the Cascade Mountains to see more of any depth to speak of. I love the picture you painted, Tara, of snuggling by the fire with a good book and lots of tea! And John Greenleaf Whittier again! He was my favorite American poet when I was in high school, more so than Robert Frost, I admit.


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