Snow in the Suburbs

                    Every branch big with it,
                    Bent every twig with it;
            Every fork like a white web-foot;
            Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
        The palings are glued together like a wall,
        And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

            A sparrow enters the tree,
            Whereon immediately
        A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
        Descends on him and showers his head and eye
                    And overturns him,
                    And near inurns him,
        And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

            The steps are a blanched slope,
            Up which, with feeble hope,
        A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
                    And we take him in.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 24, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Snow in the Suburbs” appeared in the collection Human Shows, Far Phantasies, Songs and Trifles (Macmillan, 1925). As Tim Armstrong, professor of literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, notes in Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems (Routledge, 2009), the poem has a complex “metrical plot” that “begins with a declarative and end-stopped falling rhythm which is ‘released’ into iambics (and enjambment) only when the action moves on after four lines.” In Thomas Hardy and British Poetry (Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1973), poet and literary critic Donald Davie cites “Snow in the Suburbs” as evidence that “though he seems to have lived through the Imagist movement and its immediate aftermath without being aware of them, [Hardy] is certainly among those who see poetry as a sponge rather than a fountain [. . .].”