The Seasons: Winter

[1744 Version]

Original Text: 

James Thomson, The Seasons (London: Henry Woodfall for A. Millar, 1744). MCC T4 S32 1744 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).

2Sullen and sad, with all his rising train--
3Vapours, and clouds, and storms. Be these my theme,
4These, that exalt the soul to solemn thought
5And heavenly musing. Welcome, kindred glooms!
6Congenial horrors, hail! With frequent foot,
7Pleas'd have I, in my cheerful morn of life,
8When nurs'd by careless solitude I liv'd
9And sung of Nature with unceasing joy,
10Pleas'd have I wander'd through your rough domain;
11Trod the pure virgin-snows, myself as pure;
12Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burst;
13Or seen the deep-fermenting tempest brew'd
14In the grim evening-sky. Thus pass'd the time,
16Look'd out the joyous Spring--look'd out and smil'd.
...
42To Capricorn the Centaur-Archer yields,
44Hung o'er the farthest verge of heaven, the sun
45Scarce spreads o'er ether the dejected day.
46Faint are his gleams, and ineffectual shoot
47His struggling rays in horizontal lines
48Through the thick air; as cloth'd in cloudy storm,
49Weak, wan, and broad, he skirts the southern sky;
50And, soon descending, to the long dark night,
51Wide-shading all, the prostrate world resigns.
52Nor is the night unwish'd; while vital heat,
53Light, life, and joy the dubious day forsake.
54Meantime, in sable cincture, shadows vast,
55Deep-ting'd and damp, and congregated clouds,
56And all the vapoury turbulence of heaven
57Involve the face of things. Thus Winter falls,
58A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world,
59Through Nature shedding influence malign,
60And rouses up the seeds of dark disease.
61The soul of man dies in him, loathing life,
62And black with more than melancholy views.
63The cattle droop; and o'er the furrow'd land,
64Fresh from the plough, the dun discolour'd flocks,
65Untended spreading, crop the wholesome root.
66Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
67Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm;
68And up among the loose disjointed cliffs
69And fractur'd mountains wild, the brawling brook
70And cave, presageful, sends a hollow moan,
71Resounding long in listening Fancy's ear.
...
107Rolls round the seasons of the changeful year,
108How mighty, how majestic are thy works!
109With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul,
110That sees astonish'd, and astonish'd sings!
111Ye too, ye winds! that now begin to blow
112With boisterous sweep, I raise my voice to you.
113Where are your stores, ye powerful beings! say,
114Where your a{:e}rial magazines reserv'd,
115To swell the brooding terrors of the storm?
116In what far-distant region of the sky,
117Hush'd in deep silence, sleep you when 'tis calm?
118     When from the pallid sky the sun descends,
119With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb
120Uncertain wanders, stain'd; red fiery streaks
121Begin to flush around. The reeling clouds
122Stagger with dizzy poise, as doubting yet
123Which master to obey; while, rising slow,
124Blank in the leaden-colour'd east, the moon
125Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns.
127The stars obtuse emit a shivering ray;
128Or frequent seem to shoot athwart the gloom,
129And long behind them trail the whitening blaze.
130Snatch'd in short eddies, plays the wither'd leaf;
131And on the flood the dancing feather floats.
132With broaden'd nostrils to the sky upturn'd,
133The conscious heifer snuffs the stormy gale.
134Even as the matron, at her nightly task,
135With pensive labour draws the flaxen thread,
136The wasted taper and the crackling flame
137Foretell the blast. But chief the plumy race,
138The tenants of the sky, its changes speak.
139Retiring from the downs, where all day long
140They pick'd their scanty fare, a black'ning train
141Of clamorous rooks thick-urge their weary flight,
142And seek the closing shelter of the grove.
143Assiduous, in his bower, the wailing owl
144Plies his sad song. The cormorant on high
145Wheels from the deep, and screams along the land.
146Loud shrieks the soaring hern; and with wild wing
147The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky clouds.
148Ocean, unequal press'd, with broken tide
149And blind commotion heaves; while from the shore,
151And forest-rustling mountain comes a voice
152That, solemn-sounding, bids the world prepare.
153Then issues forth the storm with sudden burst,
154And hurls the whole precipitated air
155Down in a torrent. On the passive main
156Descends th' ethereal force, and with strong gust
157Turns from its bottom the discolour'd deep.
158Through the black night that sits immense around,
159Lash'd into foam, the fierce-conflicting brine
160Seems o'er a thousand raging waves to burn.
161Meantime the mountain-billows, to the clouds
162In dreadful tumult swell'd, surge above surge,
163Burst into chaos with tremendous roar,
164And anchor'd navies from their stations drive,
165Wild as the winds across the howling waste
166Of mighty waters: now th' inflated wave
167Straining they scale, and now impetuous shoot
169The wintry Baltic thund'ring o'er their head.
170Emerging thence again, before the breath
171Of full-exerted heaven they wing their course,
172And dart on distant coasts, if some sharp rock
173Or shoal insidious break not their career,
174And in loose fragments fling them floating round.
175     Nor less at hand the loosen'd tempest reigns.
177Stoop to the bottom of the rocks they shade.
178Lone on the midnight steep, and all aghast,
179The dark wayfaring stranger breathless toils,
180And, often falling, climbs against the blast.
181Low waves the rooted forest, vex'd, and sheds
182What of its tarnish'd honours yet remain;
183Dash'd down and scatter'd, by the tearing wind's
184Assiduous fury, its gigantic limbs.
185Thus struggling through the dissipated grove,
186The whirling tempest raves along the plain;
187And, on the cottage thatch'd or lordly roof,
188Keen-fastening, shakes them to the solid base.
189Sleep frighted flies; and round the rocking dome,
190For entrance eager, howls the savage blast.
191Then too, they say, through all the burden'd air
192Long groans are heard, shrill sounds, and distant sighs,
195     Huge uproar lords it wide. The clouds, commix'd
196With stars swift-gliding, sweep along the sky.
197All Nature reels: till Nature's King, who oft
198Amid tempestuous darkness dwells alone,
200Walks dreadfully serene, commands a calm;
201Then straight air, sea, and earth are hush'd at once.
202     As yet 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds,
203Slow-meeting, mingle into solid gloom.
204Now, while the drowsy world lies lost in sleep,
205Let me associate with the serious Night,
206And Contemplation, her sedate compeer;
207Let me shake off th' intrusive cares of day,
208And lay the meddling senses all aside.
209     Where now, ye lying vanities of life!
210Ye ever-tempting, ever-cheating train!
211Where are you now? and what is your amount?
212Vexation, disappointment, and remorse.
213Sad, sick'ning thought! and yet deluded man,
214A scene of crude disjointed visions past,
215And broken slumbers, rises still resolv'd,
216With new-flush'd hopes, to run the giddy round.
217     Father of light and life! thou Good Supreme!
218O teach me what is good! teach me Thyself!
219Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
220From every low pursuit; and feed my soul
221With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure,
222Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!
223     The keener tempests come; and, fuming dun
224From all the livid east or piercing north,
225Thick clouds ascend, in whose capacious womb
226A vapoury deluge lies, to snow congeal'd.
227Heavy they roll their fleecy world along,
228And the sky saddens with the gather'd storm.
229Through the hush'd air the whitening shower descends,
230At first thin-wavering; till at last the flakes
231Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day
232With a continual flow. The cherish'd fields
233Put on their winter robe of purest white.
234'Tis brightness all; save where the new snow melts
235Along the mazy current. Low the woods
236Bow their hoar head; and, ere the languid sun,
237Faint from the west, emits his evening ray,
238Earth's universal face, deep-hid and chill,
239Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries wide
240The works of man. Drooping, the labourer-ox
241Stands cover'd o'er with snow, and then demands
242The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven,
243Tam'd by the cruel season, crowd around
244The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
245Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
247Wisely regardful of th' embroiling sky,
248In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves
249His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man
250His annual visit. Half-afraid, he first
251Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
252On the warm hearth; then hopping o'er the floor,
253Eyes all the smiling family askance,
254And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is;
255Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs
256Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds
257Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare,
258Though timorous of heart, and hard beset
259By death in various forms, dark snares, and dogs,
260And more unpitying men, the garden seeks,
261Urg'd on by fearless want. The bleating kind
262Eye the bleak heaven, and next the glistening earth,
263With looks of dumb despair; then, sad-dispers'd,
264Dig for the wither'd herb through heaps of snow.
265     Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind;
266Baffle the raging year, and fill their pens
267With food at will; lodge them below the storm,
268And watch them strict: for, from the bellowing east,
269In this dire season, oft the whirlwind's wing
270Sweeps up the burden of whole wintry plains
271In one wide waft, and o'er the hapless flocks,
272Hid in the hollow of two neighbouring hills,
273The billowy tempest whelms; till, upward urg'd,
274The valley to a shining mountain swells,
275Tipp'd with a wreath high-curling in the sky.
...
323Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround--
324They, who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth,
325And wanton, often cruel, riot waste--
326Ah! little think they, while they dance along,
327How many feel, this very moment, death
328And all the sad variety of pain;
329How many sink in the devouring flood,
330Or more devouring flame; how many bleed,
331By shameful variance betwixt man and man;
332How many pine in want, and dungeon-glooms,
333Shut from the common air and common use
334Of their own limbs; how many drink the cup
335Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread
336Of misery; sore pierc'd by wintry winds,
337How many shrink into the sordid hut
338Of cheerless poverty; how many shake
339With all the fiercer tortures of the mind,
340Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse;
341Whence, tumbled headlong from the height of life,
342They furnish matter for the tragic muse.
343Even in the vale, where wisdom loves to dwell,
344With friendship, peace, and contemplation join'd,
345How many, rack'd with honest passions, droop
346In deep retir'd distress, how many stand
347Around the death-bed of their dearest friends,
350That one incessant struggle render life,
351One scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate,
352Vice in his high career would stand appall'd,
353And heedless rambling Impulse learn to think;
354The conscious heart of Charity would warm,
355And her wide wish Benevolence dilate;
356The social tear would rise, the social sigh;
357And, into clear perfection, gradual bliss,
358Refining still, the social passions work.
...
425In the wild depth of winter, while without
426The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat,
427Between the groaning forest and the shore,
428Beat by the boundless multitude of waves,
429A rural, shelter'd, solitary scene;
430Where ruddy fire and beaming tapers join
431To cheer the gloom. There studious let me sit,
432And hold high converse with the mighty dead:
433Sages of ancient time, as gods rever'd,
434As gods beneficent, who bless'd mankind
435With arts and arms, and humaniz'd a world.
436Rous'd at th' inspiring thought, I throw aside
437The long-liv'd volume, and deep-musing hail
438The sacred shades that slowly rising pass
439Before my wandering eyes. First Socrates,
440Who, firmly good in a corrupted state,
442Invincible! calm reason's holy law,
444Obeying, fearless or in life or death:
445Great moral teacher! wisest of mankind!
447On equity's wide base; by tender laws
448A lively people curbing, yet undamp'd
449Preserving still that quick peculiar fire,
450Whence in the laurel'd field of finer arts,
451And of bold freedom, they unequal'd shone,
452The pride of smiling Greece and human-kind.
454Of strictest discipline, severely wise,
455All human passions. Following him I see,
456As at Thermopylae he glorious fell,
460Spotless of heart, to whom th' unflattering voice
461Of freedom gave the noblest name of Just;
462In pure majestic poverty rever'd;
463Who, ev'n his glory to his country's weal
465Rear'd by his care, of softer ray appears
467Shook off the load of young debauch; abroad
468The scourge of Persian pride, at home the friend
469Of every worth and every splendid art;
470Modest and simple in the pomp of wealth.
...
500Which knew no stain, save that with partial flame
501Their dearest country they too fondly lov'd.
503Numa, who soften'd her rapacious sons;
505On which o'er earth the vast republic spread.
506Then the great consuls venerable rise:
508As on the dread tribunal, sternly sad;
509He, whom his thankless country could not lose,
514From all that pleading Nature could oppose,
515From a whole city's tears, by rigid faith
516Imperious call'd, and honour's dire command;
518Who soon the race of spotless glory ran,
519And, warm in youth, to the poetic shade
520With friendship and philosophy retir'd;
522Restrain'd the rapid fate of rushing Rome;
525Whose steady arm, by awful virtue urg'd,
526Lifted the Roman steel against thy friend.
527Thousands besides the tribute of a verse
528Demand; but who can count the stars of heaven.
529Who sing their influence on this lower world?
530     Behold, who yonder comes! in sober state,
531Fair, mild, and strong as is a vernal sun:
533Great Homer too appears, of daring wing,
534Parent of song! and equal by his side,
538Pathetic drew th' impassion'd heart, and charm'd
539Transported Athens with the moral scene;
541     First of your kind! society divine!
542Still visit thus my nights, for you reserv'd,
543And mount my soaring soul to thoughts like yours.
544Silence, thou lonely power! the door be thine;
545See on the hallow'd hour that none intrude,
546Save a few chosen friends, that sometimes deign
547To bless my humble roof, with sense refin'd,
548Learning digested well, exalted faith,
549Unstudied wit, and humour ever gay.
550Or from the Muses' hill will Pope descend,
551To raise the sacred hour, to bid it smile,
552And with the social spirit warm the heart;
553For, though not sweeter his own Homer sings,
554Yet is his life the more endearing song.
...
631Full of each theme and warm with mix'd discourse,
632Hums indistinct. The sons of riot flow
633Down the loose stream of false enchanted joy
634To swift destruction. On the rankled soul
635The gaming fury falls; and in one gulf
636Of total ruin, honour, virtue, peace,
637Friends, families, and fortune headlong sink.
638Up-springs the dance along the lighted dome,
639Mix'd and evolv'd a thousand sprightly ways.
640The glitt'ring court effuses every pomp;
641The circle deepens; beam'd with gaudy robes,
642Tapers, and sparkling gems, and radiant eyes,
643A soft effulgence o'er the palace waves:
644While a gay insect in his summer shine,
645The fop, light-flutt'ring, spreads his mealy wings.
646     Dread o'er the scene the ghost of Hamlet stalks;
649Deep-thrilling terror shakes; the comely tear
650Steals o'er the cheek: or else the comic muse
651Holds to the world a picture of itself,
652And raises sly the fair impartial laugh.
653Sometimes she lifts her strain, and paints the scenes
654Of beauteous life; whate'er can deck mankind,
657Whose patriot virtues, and consummate skill
658To touch the finer springs that move the world,
659Join'd to whate'er the graces can bestow,
660And all Apollo's animating fire,
662At once the guardian, ornament, and joy
663Of polish'd life; permit the rural muse,
664O Chesterfield, to grace thee with her song.
665Ere to the shades again she humbly flies,
666Indulge her fond ambition, in thy train
667(For every muse has in thy train a place)
668To mark thy various full-accomplish'd mind,
669To mark that spirit which with British scorn
670Rejects th' allurements of corrupted power;
671That elegant politeness which excels,
672Ev'n in the judgment of presumptuous France,
673The boasted manners of her shining court;
674That wit, the vivid energy of sense,
676And kind well-temper'd satire, smoothly keen,
677Steals through the soul and without pain corrects.
678Or, rising thence with yet a brighter flame,
679O let me hail thee on some glorious day,
681Britannia's sons to hear her pleaded cause!
682Then, dress'd by thee, more amiably fair,
683Truth the soft robe of mild persuasion wears;
684Thou to assenting reason giv'st again
685Her own enlighten'd thoughts; call'd from the heart,
686Th' obedient passions on thy voice attend;
687     And ev'n reluctant party feels a while
688Thy gracious power, as through the varied maze
689Of eloquence, now smooth, now quick, now strong,
690Profound and clear, you roll the copious flood.
691     To thy lov'd haunt return, my happy muse:
692For now, behold! the joyous Winter days,
693Frosty, succeed; and through the blue serene,
695Killing infectious damps, and the spent air
696Storing afresh with elemental life.
697Close crowds the shining atmosphere; and binds
698Our strengthen'd bodies in its cold embrace,
699Constringent; feeds, and animates our blood;
700Refines our spirits, through the new-strung nerves
701In swifter sallies darting to the brain;
702Where sits the soul, intense, collected, cool,
703Bright as the skies, and as the season keen.
704All nature feels the renovating force
705Of Winter, only to the thoughtless eye
708And gathers vigour for the coming year;
709A stronger glow sits on the lively cheek
711The purer rivers flow: their sullen deeps,
712Transparent, open to the shepherd's gaze,
713And murmur hoarser at the fixing frost.
714     What art thou, frost? and whence are thy keen stores
715Deriv'd, thou secret all-invading power,
717Is not thy potent energy, unseen,
718Myriads of little salts, or hook'd, or shap'd
719Like double wedges, and diffus'd immense
720Through water, earth, and ether? Hence at eve,
722With the fierce rage of Winter deep suffus'd,
723An icy gale, oft shifting, o'er the pool
724Breathes a blue film, and in its mid-career
726Let down the flood and half dissolv'd by day,
727Rustles no more; but to the sedgy bank
728Fast grows, or gathers round the pointed stone,
729A crystal pavement, by the breath of heaven
730Cemented firm; till, seiz'd from shore to shore,
731The whole imprison'd river growls below.
732Loud rings the frozen earth, and hard reflects
733A double noise; while, at his evening watch,
734The village-dog deters the nightly thief;
735The heifer lows, the distant waterfall
736Swells in the breeze; and with the hasty tread
737Of traveller the hollow-sounding plain
738Shakes from afar. The full ethereal round,
739Infinite worlds disclosing to the view,
740Shines out intensely keen, and, all one cope
741Of starry glitter, glows from pole to pole.
742From pole to pole the rigid influence falls
743Through the still night, incessant, heavy, strong,
744And seizes nature fast. It freezes on,
745Till morn, late-rising o'er the drooping world,
746Lifts her pale eye unjoyous. Then appears
747The various labour of the silent night:
748Prone from the dripping eave, and dumb cascade,
749Whose idle torrents only seem to roar,
750The pendant icicle; the frost-work fair,
751Where transient hues and fancy'd figures rise;
752Wide-spouted o'er the hill the frozen brook,
753A livid tract, cold-gleaming on the morn;
754The forest bent beneath the plumy wave;
755And by the frost refin'd the whiter snow
756Incrusted hard, and sounding to the tread
757Of early shepherd, as he pensive seeks
758His pining flock, or from the mountain top,
759Pleas'd with the slippery surface, swift descends.
...
1025And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd year.
1026How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
1027How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
1028His melancholy empire. Here, fond man!
1029Behold thy pictur'd life; pass some few years,
1030Thy flowering Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
1031Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
1032And pale concluding Winter comes at last
1033And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled
1034Those dreams of greatness? those unsolid hopes
1035Of happiness? those longings after fame?
1036Those restless cares? those busy bustling days?
1037Those gay-spent festive nights? those veering thoughts,
1038Lost between good and ill, that shared thy life?
1040Immortal, never-failing friend of man,
1041His guide to happiness on high. And see!
1043Of heaven and earth! awakening nature hears
1044The new-creating word, and starts to life
1045In every heighten'd form, from pain and death
1046For ever free. The great eternal scheme,
1047Involving all, and in a perfect whole
1048Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads,
1049To reason's eye refin'd clears up apace.
1050Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous! now,
1051Confounded in the dust, adore that Power
1052And Wisdom oft arraign'd: see now the cause
1053Why unassuming worth in secret liv'd
1054And died neglected: why the good man's share
1056Why the lone widow and her orphans pin'd
1057In starving solitude; while luxury
1058In palaces lay straining her low thought
1059To form unreal wants: why heaven-born truth
1060And moderation fair wore the red marks
1061Of superstition's scourge; why licens'd pain,
1062That cruel spoiler, that embosom'd foe,
1063Embitter'd all our bliss. Ye good distress'd!
1064Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
1065Beneath life's pressure, yet a little while,
1066And what your bounded view, which only saw
1067A little part, deem'd evil is no more:
1068The storms of wintry time will quickly pass,
1069And one unbounded Spring encircle all.

Notes

1] "Winter." The Seasons is a long descriptive, philosophical, and humanitarian poem in four books (one for each season) concluded by a final "Hymn to Nature." Thomson not only describes typical scenes but includes narrative episodes, panegyrics, and reflections, and the work is, among other things, a poetical exposition of design (the Religion of Nature) of which the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) had been perhaps the most important English exponent. Comparisons with Pope's Essay on Man can be made throughout. "Winter" was first published in 1726, "Summer" in 1727, "Spring" in 1728, and the complete poem in 1730. Many additions and expansions were made prior to the edition of 1744, upon the text of which the present selection is based. 6. Cf. Paradise Lost, I, 250-51: "... Hail horrors, hail Infernal world." Back to Line
15] Cf. Job 9: 9: "Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south." Back to Line
41] The sun passes from Sagittarius (the "Centaur-Archer"), the ninth sign of the Zodiac, to Capricorn, the tenth sign, about December 21, and a month later enters Aquarius. Lines 17-40 are a dedicatory address to the Earl of Wilmington. Back to Line
43] inverted. The suggestion is that winter is associated with retrogression, as the other three seasons are with advancement. Cf. Dryden, "Song to a Fair Young Lady," line 4. Back to Line
106] Lines 72-105 are a description of a cheerless rain-storm. Back to Line
126] The source of this passage is to be found in Virgil, Georgics, i, 365-90. Back to Line
150] eat: eaten. Back to Line
168] Cf. Psalms 104:3: "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters." Back to Line
176] sons: trees. Back to Line
193] demon of the night: the attendant spirit, or presiding genius, of Night. Back to Line
194] devoted: doomed. Back to Line
199] Cf. Psalms 104: 3: "... who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind." Back to Line
246] household gods: a classical allusion to the Roman Penates, signifying simply "the family." Back to Line
322] Lines 276-321 are the account of a cottager's death in a snow-storm. Back to Line
348] fond: foolish. Back to Line
349] Cf. Hamlet, III, i: "the thousand natural shocks/ That flesh is heir to." Back to Line
424] Lines 359-88 give an account of the cruelties of a British prison in the eighteenth century; 389-423 describe wolves descending from the Alps and Apennines. Back to Line
441] "The passage on ancient governments which begins at this point reflects, in its stress on freedom against tyranny and servility, the propaganda of the Opposition" (R. S. Crane). The Walpole administration was notoriously indifferent to the welfare of the country and to the spirit of liberty, which it was the duty of the Opposition to revive. Back to Line
443] Cf. Pope, Essay on Man, II, 203-4. Back to Line
446] Solon: an Athenian law-giver (b. 638? B.C.), one of the seven wise men. Back to Line
453] Lycurgus: Spartan law-giver of the ninth century, B.C. Back to Line
457] chief: Leonidas, King of Sparta, who suffered a noble death at Thermopylae opposing the Persian Xerxes (480 B.C.). Back to Line
458] the other: Lycurgus. Back to Line
459] Aristides: military leader of the Athenians (d. 468 B.C.), responsible for legislation admitting all classes of citizens to political offices. Back to Line
464] a haughty rival: Themistocles. Back to Line
466] Cimon: a disciple of Aristides, who achieved distinction in the war against the Persians. With his vast wealth he greatly improved and beautified Athens, his native city. Back to Line
498] a mighty people: the Romans. Lines 471-97 refer to "the last worthies of declining Greece." Back to Line
499] those virtuous times: referring to the republic. Back to Line
502] better founder: Numa, second (legendary) king of Rome (the first, Romulus). He was "better" because he founded the religious institutions of Rome. Back to Line
504] Servius: sixth king of Rome, founder of the constitution. Back to Line
507] The reference is to Lucius Junius Brutus, who, as consul of the new republic, condemned his own sons to death for their attempt to restore the exiled royal family of the Tarquins. Back to Line
510] Camillus: consul (403 B.C.). Upon accusations made against him by the state which he had faithfully served, he retired, but was recalled in 390 to defend the state against the Gauls. Back to Line
511] Fabricius: consul (282 B.C.), who refused offers of money by Pyrrhus, King of Epirus. Back to Line
512] Cincinnatus: consul (460 B.C.), who accepted the dictatorship of the state, but, his work done, he returned to his farm. Back to Line
513] victim: Regulus, a consul during the time of the first Punic War. Captured by the Carthaginians, he was sent as emissary to Rome where he advised continuation of the war, and, despite family and state entreaties, honourably returned to Carthage and a cruel death. Back to Line
517] Scipio: called "Africanus" (minor) from destroying Carthage (146 B.C.); a cultivated man of letters. Back to Line
521] Tully: Cicero. Back to Line
523] Cata: (234-149 B.C.) commonly called the Censor because of his severity and strictness. Back to Line
524] Brutus: Marcus Junius Brutus; cf. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Back to Line
532] Phoebus: Apollo, patron of poets.
Mantuan swain: Virgil. Back to Line
535] British Muse: Milton. Back to Line
536] darkling: The reference is to the blindness of both Homer and Milton. Back to Line
537] shades: the Attic tragedians. Back to Line
540] those: the Greek lyric poets. Back to Line
630] Lines 555-71 are Thomson's tribute to his friend James Hammond, a minor elegiac poet. 572-629. In lines 572-629, the poet gives an account of winter evening studies and amusements in the country. Back to Line
647] Monimia: the heroine of Otway's play The Orphan. Back to Line
648] Belvidera: the heroine of Otway's Venice Preserved. Back to Line
655] Bevil: a character in Steele's sentimental comedy The Conscious Lovers. Back to Line
656] These complimentary lines to the Earl of Chesterfield, author of the famous Letters to his Son, and by many considered the model of the polite and dignified eighteenth-century gentleman, were added to the 1744 edition of the poem. Back to Line
661] give: permit or enable. Back to Line
675] Attic point: meant to suggest the liveliness and sparkle of Athenian wit. Back to Line
680] senate: House of Lords. Back to Line
694] ethereal nitre: not only an effect of a certain condition of the atmosphere but also a kind of fine salt. Cf. line 718. Back to Line
706] concocted: in the sense of ripened. Back to Line
707] soul: life. Back to Line
710] luculent: beauteous, shining. Back to Line
716] illusive fluid: water eluding the grasp. Back to Line
721] red horizon: in the west, at sunset, a sign of frost. Cf. Virgil, Georgics, iii, 358. Back to Line
725] bickering: rippling. Back to Line
1024] Lines 760-949 comprise three sections, mainly descriptive, which are concerned with winter sports, winter scenes in the frigid zone, and the impressive grandeur of the polar regions. Lines 950-87 are an historical digression (added in 1744) that deals with the progressive reforms of Peter the Great of Russia. Lines 988-1023 return to a passage descriptive of frost succeeded by a thaw. Back to Line
1039] Cf. Pope, Essay on Man, IV, 309-10: "Know then this truth (enough for man to know) 'Virtue alone is happiness below'." Back to Line
1042] Cf. Revelation 21: 1-4. Back to Line
1055] Cf. Acts 8: 23. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1726
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.184.
Rhyme: