The first hard frost has come and gone:
It made quicksilver of the lawn,
And left bright grains in feathered grass,
And plumes on icy window-glass.
They sparkle for the glacier eye:
Cold as the flow that moves on high
And shows us, as it breaks apart,
The green within its restless heart.
Now that the summer stars have set,
The snowy veil drops like a net
Upon the milkweed, dry and tall,
That worked to ripen, and to fall.
But starry secrets find their birth,
Drift on the wind, and come to earth:
A chain of blossoms, where they sink
To bless the soil, and rise in pink.
The sky alone is evergreen:
A diamond Spindle for a queen
Adorns the spinner, not too proud
To dress the heavens, cloud by cloud;
And those who labor in the cold
May bind their dreams of love or gold
Upon the Wagon, for a span
Of passage with the hooded man.
Low in the east, the idle Plough,
The servant of the Fire-Sow,
Has lost its bondsmen to the Throng,
Boar-helmets and the battle-song;
While masters of a westbound sail
Who fix ambition on the Nail
And pilot by that silver spear,
Will never fail, and never fear.
That was the face of heavens past:
A chart to trace the things that last,
Marked out in rings of fire, not ice;
Yet snow partitions Paradise!
Or just this little edge of it;
Black mesh of trees where white stars sit
Beneath a crescent moon, grown dim
As if the Wolf-Jaws worried him.
He soars above the silver beck,
To wax knife-bright again, and deck
With carven shadows, blue and mild,
The fair ones' tooth-gift to a child,
The province of the Summer King,
Locked tight in sleep until the Spring
Unbinds her hero, to enjoy
A citadel far north of Troy.
And in our game of hide and seek,
My fingers touch a warm, rough cheek,
And then a mouth, as sweet as this
White snow upon the yews, to kiss.
The strong March sun, beyond the firs,
Might glow like this young god of hers,
And bare trees that his arms enfold
Embrace the wait, embrace the cold.
In shallows where the water sings
As softly as a raven's wings,
The waning moon is swept away;
Another face reflects the day,
And in the wake of golden light,
The fiery curtain fills the night
Where shining needles freeze and scald
With scarlet, white, and emerald.
They flicker as their lord commands
Embroidered glory for the land's
Midwinter harvest yet to thresh;
It is my dress, it is my flesh,
And marks dominion over sense
As static as that wire fence,
With all the dreamers it can snare
Left bleeding and suspended there.