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The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back,—
The oaken log, green, huge and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty fore-stick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art
The ragged brush; then hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old rude-fashioned room
Burst flower-like into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks' heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: "Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea."
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed,
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons' straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And close at hand the basket stood
With nuts from brown October's wood.
Down the wintry mountain
Like a cloud they come,
Not like a cloud in its silent shroud
When the sky is leaden and the earth all dumb,
But tramp, tramp, tramp,
With a roar and a shock,
And stamp, stamp, stamp,
Down the hard granite rock,
With the snow-flakes falling fair
Like an army in the air
Of white-winged angels leaving
Their heavenly homes, half grieving,
And half glad to drop down kindly upon earth
With a snort and a bellow
Tossing manes dun and yellow,
Red and roan, black and gray,
In their fierce merry play,
Though the sky is all leaden and the earth all dumb
Down the noisy cattle come!
Throned on the mountain
Winter sits at ease:
Hidden under mist are those peaks of amethyst
That rose like hills of heaven above the amber
While crash, crash, crash,
Through the frozen heather brown,
And dash, dash, dash,
Where the ptarmigan drops down
And the curlew stops her cry
And the deer sinks, like to die
The And the waterfall's loud noise
Is the only living voice
With a plunge and a roar
Like mad waves upon the shore,
Or the wind through the pass
Howling o'er the reedy grass-
In a wild battalion pouring from the heights
unto the plain,
Down the cattle come again!
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain-side,
They sat them down;
About them frisking played
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase
In wood or wilderness, forest or den.
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gamboled before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, used all his might, and
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unheeded. Others on the grass
Couched, and, now filled with pasture, gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,
Declined, was hastening now with prone career
To the Ocean Isles, and in the ascending scale
Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose.
From "Paradise Lost."
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night!
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the ardor of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire-
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand form'd thy dread feet?
What the hammer, what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?