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Ode to Winter

by
 When first the fiery-mantled sun 
His heavenly race begun to run; 
Round the earth and ocean blue, 
His children four the Seasons flew.
First, in green apparel dancing, The young Spring smiled with angel grace; Rosy summer next advancing, Rushed into her sire's embrace:- Her blue-haired sire, who bade her keep For ever nearest to his smile, On Calpe's olive-shaded steep, On India's citron-covered isles: More remote and buxom-brown, The Queen of vintage bowed before his throne, A rich pomegranate gemmed her gown, A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar, To hills that prop the polar star, And lives on deer-borne car to ride With barren darkness at his side, Round the shore where loud Lofoden Whirls to death the roaring whale, Round the hall where runic Odin Howls his war-song to the gale; Save when adown the ravaged globe He travels on his native storm, Deflowering Nature's grassy robe, And trampling on her faded form:- Till light's returning lord assume The shaft the drives him to his polar field, Of power to pierce his raven plume And crystal-covered shield.
Oh, sire of storms! whose savage ear The Lapland drum delights to hear, When frenzy with her blood-shot eye Implores thy dreadful deity, Archangel! power of desolation! Fast descending as thou art, Say, hath mortal invocation Spells to touch thy stony heart? Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer, And gently rule the ruined year; Nor chill the wanders bosom bare, Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear;- To shuddering Want's unmantled bed Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead, And gently on the orphan head Of innocence descend.
- But chiefly spare, O king of clouds! The sailor on his airy shrouds; When wrecks and beacons strew the steep, And specters walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes Pour on yonder tented shores, Where the Rhine's broad billow freezes, Or the Dark-brown Danube roars.
Oh, winds of winter! List ye there To many a deep and dying groan; Or start, ye demons of the midnight air, At shrieks and thunders louder than your own.
Alas! Even unhallowed breath May spare the victim fallen low; But man will ask no truce of death,- No bounds to human woe.

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