Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
This poem is in the public domain.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) was an American poet, essayist, and philosopher. Born and raised in Boston, he attended both Harvard University and Harvard School of Divinity, but was not a particularly impressive student. “Waldo,” as he preferred to be called, worked as a schoolteacher and Unitarian minister before devoting himself to a career in writing and public speaking. A close friend of Henry David Thoreau, Nathanial Hawthorne, the Alcott family, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Prince Achille Murat, he was also instrumental in establishing Walt Whitman’s reputation as a poet. A strong abolitionist and passionate Transcendentalist, Emerson was one of the foremost personalities of the 19th century; his philosphies and writings had tremendous impact on America’s political, religious, and literary arenas. Unfortunately, he knew much sorrow in his life, including the death of his father when he was only eight, the death of his first wife after only a year and a half of marriage, the death of both his young sons, and the loss of his home in Concord to fire.
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A double sonnet rich in imagery! And I learned a couple new words (parian and maugre) - always a plus!
Posted 01/10/2015 01:56 PM
Bringing all to a metamorphosis, transforming a new muse while reality hibernates.
Posted 01/10/2015 08:56 AM
We have seen "the north wind's masonry" in Wisconsin this week, beautiful images in this poem.
Posted 01/10/2015 07:39 AM
I seem to be having an Emerson day--I had just underscored a quote in Richard Ford's new book, where his alter-ego Frank Branscomb says ""Emerson was right--as he was right about everything: an infinite remoteness underlies us all."
That certainly fits with this poem, which seems infinitely remote except for the poem-within-a-poem that brings up close to the farmhouse at the garden’s end:
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet /
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit /
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed /
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Posted 01/10/2015 05:22 AM
I've been to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery too! It was mysterious, a spiritual experience..
Posted 01/09/2015 11:52 PM