January 1, 2011

Willis: Winter is come again

The Portland, Maine-born Nathaniel Parker Willis grew up partly in Boston, graduated from Yale in Connecticut, before touring the United States and Canada. Though still young, he had lived a whirlwind life (which he would later make up for as a long-term convalescent in upstate New York). He was just three weeks shy of his 23rd birthday when he wrote "January 1, 1829":

Winter is come again. The sweet south west
Is a forgotten wind, and the strong earth
Has laid aside its mantle to be bound
By the frost fetter. There is not a sound
Save of the skaiter's heel, and there is laid
An icy finger on the lip of streams,
And the clear icicle hangs cold and still,
And the snow-fall is noiseless as a thought.
Spring has a rushing sound, and Summer sends
Many sweet voices with its odors out,
And autumn rustleth its decaying robe
With a complaining whisper. Winter's dumb!
God made his ministry a silent one,
And he has given him a foot of steel
And an unlovely aspect, and a breath
Sharp to the senses—and we know that He
Tempereth well, and hath a meaning hid
Under the shadow of his hand. Look up!
And it shall be interpreted—Your home
Hath a temptation now. There is no voice
Of waters with beguiling for your ear,
And the cool forest and the meadows green
Witch not your feet away; and in the dells
There are no violets, and upon the hills
There are no sunny places to lie down.
You must go in, and by your cheerful fire
Wait for the offices of love, and hear
Accents of human tenderness, and feast
Your eye upon the beauty of the young.
It is a season for the quiet thought,
And the still reckoning with thyself. The year
Gives back the spirits of its dead, and time
Whispers the history of its vanished hours;
And the heart, calling its affections up,
Counteth its wasted ingots. Life stands still
And settles like a fountain, and the eye
Sees clearly through its depths, and noteth all
That stirred its troubled waters. It is well
That Winter with the dying year should come!


  1. Hi Rob,
    Typo in the headline: Willis' name is misspelled: it needs an extra "l."
    Enjoyable post.

  2. Nice post i really enjoy reading this post.


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