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The First Snowfall

by James Russell Lowell

James Russell Lowell, American Romantic poet, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 22, 1819, and died on August 12, 1891. He is considered a Fireside Poet, or part of a group of New England authors that wrote material very suitable to be read as entertainment to members of a family, often read aloud in front of a residential fireplace.


The snow had begun in the gloaming, 
And busily all the night 
Had been heaping field and highway 
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock 
Wore ermine too dear for an earl, 
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree 
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara 
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow, 
The stiff rails softened to swan's-down, 
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window 
The noiseless work of the sky, 
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds, 
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn 
Where a little headstone stood; 
How the flakes were folding it gently, 
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel, 
Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?" 
And I told of the good All-Father 
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall, 
And thought of the leaden sky 
That arched o'er our first great sorrow, 
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience 
That fell from that cloud like snow, 
Flake by flake, healing and hiding 
The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered, 
"The snow that husheth all, 
Darling, the merciful Father 
Alone can make it fall!"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her: 
And she, kissing back, could not know 
That my kiss was given to her sister, 
Folded close under deepening snow.


— The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell (1882)

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