The Great War

from The Poems of Robert W. Sterling, an electronic edition

The Treasures of the Snow

LOVE you the sun's gaze on the brow of Winder,

Toning the world to the faery voice of Spring?

Love you the storm-rack riding o'er him ghostly,

While rush the streamlets, madly bickering?

Fairer I ween is the dower of hornèd Winter;

Joy-shafts keener than arrows he can throw;

Lovelier his tresses than all the wealth of Summer:

Say, have you seen the treasures of the snow?

Silently and softly, tender and caressing,

(Soft as the down that lines the linnet's nest:

Silent as the Music that soothes the ear of Fancy:

Tender as the wind's love, sighing from the West!)

Embodied smiles from the white sky falling,

Come the white flakes in airy revelry,

Over the whole earth swiftly, surely weaving

One rare carpet of delight for me.

Run, little burn, fast flying from your lover

Strong and importunate to make you his own:

Rapidly, oh rapidly, else he will detain you,

Grip you, and embrace you, and kiss you all to stone!

Ah! fantastical glory 'mid the branches:

Frost wed to snowflake: masonry sublime:

Beauty death-dealing, pitiless and lovely,--

Sure, the fair effulgence of an angel's crime!

So sings the heart, as we glide adown the valleys,

Borrowing wings from the glittering below,

Careless of all things, save the world around us,--

World of white palaces and kingdoms of the snow:

Wanton, ye gods. In the cloudy space of Heaven!

We are as free, and we choir as free a song.

Flying?--We fly, as to heights unmeasur'd soaring:

This is no Earth, that is sweeping us along.

Pleasure, says the Bard, is as fleeting as the snowflake:

Fleeting as pleasure is the glory of the snow:

Fades the fair shroud that has hush'd the earth to wonder,

Soon, soon evanishing the earth below.

What if the dank rain patters down to ruin,

Printing me the lesson that Beauty may not last?

Is the snow lost in the wilderness of dead things?

Nay, for I glean'd its treasure as it pass'd.

February, 1912.