The Winter Scene

Original Text: 
Bliss Carman, Sanctuary: Sunshine House Sonnets (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1929), pp. 38-41. PS 8455 A7S3 1929 Robarts Library.
1The rutted roads are all like iron; skies
2Are keen and brilliant; only the oak-leaves cling
3In the bare woods, or the hardy bitter-sweet;
4Drivers have put their sheepskin jackets on;
5And all the ponds are sealed with sheeted ice
6That rings with stroke of skate and hockey-stick,
7Or in the twilight cracks with running whoop.
8Bring in the logs of oak and hickory,
9And make an ample blaze on the wide hearth.
10Now is the time, with winter o'er the world,
11For books and friends and yellow candle-light,
12And timeless lingering by the settling fire.
13While all the shuddering stars are keen with cold.
14Out from the silent portal of the hours,
15When frosts are come and all the hosts put on.
16Their burnished gear to march across the night
17And o'er a darkened earth in splendor shine,
19His glittering square, while on the shadowy hill
20And throbbing like a sea-light through the dusk,
22Lord of the winter night, august and pure,
23Returning year on year untouched by time,
24To hearten faith with thine unfaltering fire,
25There are no hurts that beauty cannot ease,
26No ills that love cannot at last repair,
27In the victorious progress of the soul.
28Russet and white and gray is the oak wood
29In the great snow. Still from the North it comes,
30Whispering, settling, sifting through the trees,
31O'erloading branch and twig. The road is lost.
32Clearing and meadow, stream and ice-bound pond
33Are made once more a trackless wilderness
34In the white hush where not a creature stirs;
35And the pale sun is blotted from the sky.
36In that strange twilight the lone traveller halts
37To listen to the stealthy snowflakes fall.
39Where through the storm the coastwise liners go,
40Faint and recurrent on the muffled air,
42When the day changed and the mad wind died down,
43The powdery drifts that all day long had blown
44Across the meadows and the open fields,
45Or whirled like diamond dust in the bright sun,
46Settled to rest, and for a tranquil hour
47The lengthening bluish shadows on the snow
48Stole down the orchard slope, and a rose light
49Flooded the earth with beauty and with peace.
50Then in the west behind the cedars black
51The sinking sun stained red the winter dusk
52With sullen flare upon the snowy ridge,--
54Where on a background gray, with flaming breath
55A scarlet dragon dies in dusky gold.


18] Orion: constellation in Taurus named after a hunter with belt and sword. Back to Line
21] Sirius: star in constellation Canis Major. Back to Line
38] Stamford: town in Connecticut. Back to Line
41] the Smother: thick cloud of snow, fog, spray, etc. Back to Line
53] Hokusai: Katsushika, Japanese artist (1760-1849). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.