I know it must be winter (though I sleep)—
I know it must be winter, for I dream
I dip my bare feet in the running stream,
And flowers are many, and the grass grows deep.

I know I must be old (how age deceives!)
I know I must be old, for, all unseen,
My heart grows young, as autumn fields grow green
When late rains patter on the falling sheaves.

I know I must be tired (and tired souls err)—
I know I must be tired, for all my soul
To deeds of daring beats a glad, faint roll,
As storms the riven pine to music stir.

I know I must be dying (Death draws near)—
I know I must be dying, for I crave
Life—life, strong life, and think not of the grave,
And turf-bound silence, in the frosty year.

The Night Is Still

The night is still, the moon looks kind,
    The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
An ivy climbs across thy blind,
    And throws a light and misty wreath.

The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
    Buds bloom for which the bee has pined;
I haste along, I quicker breathe,
    The night is still, the moon looks kind.

Buds bloom for which the bee has pined,
    The primrose slips its jealous sheath,
As up the flower-watched path I wind
    And come thy window-ledge beneath.

The primrose slips its jealous sheath,—
    Then open wide that churlish blind,
And kiss me through the ivy wreath!
    The night is still, the moon looks kind.

Winter Leafage

Each year I mark one lone outstanding tree,
Clad in its robings of the summer past,
Dry, wan, and shivering in the wintry blast.
It will not pay the season’s rightful fee,—
It will not set its frost-burnt leafage free;
But like some palsied miser all aghast,
Who hoards his sordid treasure to the last,
It sighs, it moans, it sings in eldritch glee.
A foolish tree, to dote on summers gone;
A faithless tree, that never feels how spring
Creeps up the world to make a leafy dawn,
And recompense for all despoilment bring!
Oh, let me not, heyday and youth withdrawn,
With failing hands to their vain semblance cling!

Related Poems

A Winter Scene

The rabbit leaps,
The mouse out-creeps,
The flag out-peeps
⁠Beside the brook;
The ferret weeps,
The marmot sleeps,
The owlet keeps
⁠In his snug nook.

The apples thaw,
The ravens caw,
The squirrels gnaw
⁠The frozen fruit.
To their retreat
I track the feet
Of mice that eat
⁠The apple's root.

The snow-dust falls,
The otter crawls,
The partridge calls,
Far in the wood.
The traveller dreams,
The tree-ice gleams,
The blue-jay screams
⁠In angry mood.

The willows droop,
The alders stoop,
The pheasants group
⁠Beneath the snow.
The catkins green
Cast o'er the scene
A summer's sheen,
⁠A genial glow.

Winter in the Rockies

Is this heaven? Hidden
highways. An avalanche. Nothing
around for miles to hear tires
leave the road. The mountains
bow, back-lit by white skies. I walk
& wonder if I walk for any reason
except to walk. My father,
drenched in drifting snow, was left
here. Yet I can’t say I’m closer
to the truth about loss than I was
as a child when the world I saw
was a world that doesn’t ache
to be anything else. It’s funny
how easy it is to forget
the sound of water in winter. I lay down
on the banks alongside the frozen
lake. Its long body, still. But
I’m listening now, as water
like a sleeping child wrestles
with the blankets pulled over
its face, waiting to see
which one of us will wake.