Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"It is full winter now..."

IT is full Winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The Autumn’s gaudy livery whose gold
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as though it blew

From Saturn’s cave; a few thin wisps of hay
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain
Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer’s day
From the low meadows up the narrow lane;
Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep
Press close against the hurdles, and the shivering house-dogs creep

From the shut stable to the frozen stream
And back again disconsolate, and miss
The bawling shepherds and the noisy team;
And overhead in circling listlessness
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack,
Or crowd the dripping boughs; and in the fen the ice-pools crack

Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck,
And hoots to see the moon; across the meads
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck;
And a stray seamew with its fretful cry
Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull grey sky.

From "Humanitad" by Oscar Wilde, 1881. Text via Bartleby.com. This is a very long poem, but I think it's worth reading the whole thing. The poem travels a long way from its opening verses.

Winter Landscape in the Fôret de Soignes, with the Flight Into Egypt, Denis van Alsloot, c.1616. Image from Web Gallery of Art.


Mary said...

Great! I haven't read that one in ages. You know, the critics savaged Wilde's poetry. I think most of them were secretly in love with him.

BitterGrace said...

No doubt! Some of Wilde's poetry is pretty awful, but he wrote some fine stuff. I like this one quite a bit.