Littell's Living Age/Volume 57/Issue 723/The Winters
We did not fear them once — the dull, gray mornings
No cheerless burden on our spirits laid;
The long night-watches did not bring us warnings
That we were tenants of a house decayed;
The early snows like dreams to us descended
The frost did fairy-work on pave and bough;
Beauty, and power, and wonder have not ended —
How is it that we fear the winters now?
Their house-fires fall as bright on earth and chambers
Their northern starlight shines as coldly clear;
The woods still keep their holly for December;
The world a welcome yet for the new year
And far away in old remembered places
The snow-drop rises and the robin sings;
The sun and moon look out with loving faces —
Why have our days forgot such goodly things?
Is it now that north winds finds us shaken
By tempests fiercer than its bitter blast,
Which fair beliefs and friendships, too, have taken
Away like summer foliage as they passed,
And made life leafless in its pleasant valleys,
Waning the light of promise from our day,
Fell mists meet even in the inward palace —
A dimness not like theirs to pass away?
It was not thus when dreams of love and laurels
Gave sunshine to the winters of our youth,
Before its hopes had fallen in fortune's quarrels,
Or time had bowed them with his heavy truth —
Ere yet the twilights found us strange and lonely,
With shadows coming when the fire burns low,
To tell of distant graves and losses only —
The past that cannot change and will not go.
Alas! dear friends, the winter is within us,
Hard is the ice that grows about the heart;
For petty cares and vain regrets have won us
From life's true heritage and better part.
Seasons, and skies rejoice, yea, worship rather;
But nations toil and tremble even as we
Hoping for harvest they will never gather,
Fearing the winters which they may not see.