Withering and keen the Winter comes,

The Shepherd’s Calendar

Withering and keen the Winter comes,
While Comfort flies to close-shut rooms,
And sees the snow in feathers pass
Winnowing by the window-glass;
Whilst unfelt tempests howl and beat
Above his head in chimney-seat.
Now, musing o’er the changing scene,
Farmers behind the tavern-screen
Collect; — with elbow idly press’d
On hob, reclines the corner’s guest,
Reading the news, to mark again
The bankrupt lists, or price of grain;
Or old Moore’s annual prophecies
Of flooded fields and clouded skies;
Whose Almanac’s thumb’d pages swarm
With frost and snow, and many a storm,
And wisdom, gossip’d from the stars,
Of politics and bloody wars.
He shakes his head, and still proceeds,
Nor doubts the truth of what he reads:
All wonders are with faith supplied, —
Bible, at once, or weather-guide.
Puffing the while his red-tipt pipe,
He dreams o’er troubles nearly ripe;
Yet, not quite lost in profit’s way,
He’ll turn to next year’s harvest-day,
And, Winter’s leisure to regale,
Hope better times, and — sip his ale.

John Clare

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