Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
1When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
2In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
3Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
4 Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
5Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
6Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
7 Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
8Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
9Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
10 All night it fell, and when full inches seven
11It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
12The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
13 And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
14Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
15The eye marvelled -- marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
16 The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
17No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
18And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
19 Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
20They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
21Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
22 Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
23Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
24'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!'
25 With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
26Following along the white deserted way,
27A country company long dispersed asunder:
28 When now already the sun, in pale display
29Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below
30His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
31 For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
32And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
33Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
34 But even for them awhile no cares encumber
35Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
36The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
37At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.
1] Great snows in London are rare.
29] Paul's high dome: St. Paul's Cathedral, London.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Poetical Works of Robert Bridges with The Testament of Beauty
but excluding the eight drama, 2nd edn. (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege,
Oxford University Press, 1953): 265-66.
First publication date:
Publication date note: Shorter Poems, Book III
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/11
Rhyme: ababcbcdcded ...
Other poems by Robert Bridges