The First Snowfall


The First Snowfall was anthologized in The Literary World Seventh Reader, John Calvin Metcalf, editor (1919). Lowell's poem is accompanied by Mark Twain's New England Weather.
The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping fields and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new roofed with Carrara
Came chanticleer’s muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
That noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-Father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snowfall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar on our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
“The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall.”

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.


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