The Sleigh-Bells

Original Text: 
Susanna Moodie, Roughing it in the Bush; or, Forest Life in Canada, rev. edn. (Toronto: Hunter, Rose, and Co., 1871): 172-73. B-11 6533 Fisher Rare Book Library.
2By the blazing hearth the sleigh-bells chime;
3To know the bounding steeds bring near
4The loved one to our bosoms dear.
5Ah, lightly we spring the fire to raise,
6Till the rafters glow with the ruddy blaze;
7Those merry sleigh-bells, our hearts keep time
8Responsive to their fairy chime.
9Ding-dong, ding-dong, o'er vale and hill,
10Their welcome notes are trembling still.
11'Tis he, and blithely the gay bells sound,
12As his sleigh glides over the frozen ground;
13Hark! He has pass'd the dark pine wood,
14He crosses now the ice-bound flood,
15And hails the light at the open door
16That tells his toilsome journey's o'er.
17The merry sleigh-bells! My fond heart swells
18And trobs to hear the welcome bells;
19Ding-dong, ding-dong, o'er ice and snow,
20A voice of gladness, on they go.
21Our hut is small, and rude our cheer,
22But love has spread the banquet here;
23And childhood springs to be caress'd
24By our beloved and welcome guest.
25With a smiling brow his tale he tells,
26The urchins ring the merry sleigh-bells;
27The merry sleigh-bells, with shout and song
28They drag the noisy string along;
29Ding-dong, ding-dong, the father's come
30The gay bells ring his welcome home.
31From the cedar swamp the gaunt wolves howl,
32From the oak loud whoops the felon owl;
33The snow-storm sweeps in thunder past,
34The forest creaks beneath the blast;
35No more I list, with boding fear,
36The sleigh-bells distant chime to hear.
37The merry sleigh-bells with soothing power
38Shed gladness on the evening hour.
39Ding-dong, ding-dong, what rapture swells
40The music of those joyous bells!


1] Susanna Moodie notes: "Many versions have been given of this song, and it has been set to music in the States. I here give the original copy, written whilst leaning on the open door of my shanty, and watching for the return of my husband." In 1834 Moodie moved to a log cabin, a 36-foot-by-32-foot house with parlour, kitchen, and two small bedrooms, standing on the shore of Upper Katchawanook Lake near a black cedar swamp surrounded by forest (279-82). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Albion (new York, March 2, 1833): 72.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.