Snow

 

The sky was gray, the light was low

And dim when it began to snow,

When from their cloud-womb to the ground,

The fleecy flakes came drifting down.

 

Like flying puffs of kitten hair,

They frolicked gently in the air;

Like down that flutters from the nest

On shaking wings, they found their rest;

Like flour shaken from a clown,

The fleecy flakes came drifting down.

 

On homes and churches, schools and stores,

On mines and mountains, rich with ores,

On streets and railroads, crammed with cars,

On gilded gates and prison bars,

On peaceful lands and war’s alarms,

On forests, factories, and farms,

On hill and valley, field and town,

The fleecy flakes came drifting down.

 

The falling rice became a lace

As satin veils a woman’s face,

Then manna covered all the land

As satin gloves a woman’s hand;

The fabric rose like dough with yeast

Preparing for a solemn feast,

Till crystal shoe to whitened tress,

The Earth had on a spotless dress,

And put new crystals in her gown,

As fleecy flakes came drifting down.

 

And heaven’s shearers labored still

To send their shipments to the mill;

Below, they spun and wove the thread

In sheets and blankets for the bed;

The clouds rolled onward to be shorn,

And newer flecks of wool were born.

The hatchlings with a web of silk

Conspired to flood the Earth with milk,

Which flowing round the balding trees

Had reached the level of my knees–

I feared lest anyone should drown,

But still the flakes came drifting down.

 

The winter has–I cannot tell–

A kind of mesmerizing spell:

When all the world is new and strange

Though nothing ever seems to change,

When all the stars that had their birth

In airy realms come down to Earth,

When all the cares that humans know

Are muffled by the ermine snow,

Then time is lost in memory,

And every time I look and see,

I linger by the open door

And watch and wonder more and more

As frosty beard by hoary crown,

The fleecy flakes come drifting down.

Art of a Mathematician