Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO WINTER, by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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ODE TO WINTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When first the fiery-mantled sun
Last Line: No bounds to human wo.
Subject(s): Winter


WHEN first the fiery-mantled sun
His heavenly race began to run;
Round the earth and ocean blue
His children four, the Seasons, flew.
First, in green apparel dancing,
The young Spring smiled with angel grace;
Rosy Summer next advancing,
Rushed into her sire's embrace --
Her bright-haired sire, who bade her keep
For ever nearest to his smiles,
On Calpe's olive-shaded steep,
On India's citron-covered isles:
More remote and buxom-brown,
The Queen of vintage bowed before his throne;
A rich pomegranate gemmed her crown,
A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar,
To hills that prop the polar star,
And loves on deer-borne car to ride
With barren Darkness by his side,
Round the shore where loud Lofoden
Whirls to death the roaring whale,
Round the hall where Runic Odin
Howls his war-song to the gale;
Save when adown the ravaged globe
He travels on his native storm,
Deflowering Nature's grassy robe,
And trampling on her faded form;
Till light's returning lord assume
The shaft that drives him to his polar field.
Of power to pierce his raven plume
And crystal-covered shield.
Oh, sire of storms! whose savage ear
The Lapland drum delights to hear,
When Frenzy with her blood-shot eye
Implores thy dreadful deity,
Archangel! power of desolation!
Fast descending as thou art,
Say, hath mortal invocation
Spells to touch thy stony heart?
Then sullen Winter, hear my prayer,
And gently rule the ruined year;
Nor chill the wanderer's bosom bare,
Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear:
To shuddering Want's unmantled bed
Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead,
And gently on the orphan head
Of innocence descend. --

But chiefly spare, O king of clouds!
The sailor on his airy shrouds;
When wrecks and beacons strew the steep
And spectres walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes
Pour on yonder tented shores,
Where the Rhine's broad billow freezes,
Or the dark-brown Danube roars.
Oh, winds of Winter! list ye there
To many a deep and dying groan
Or start, ye demons of the midnight air,
At shrieks and thunders louder than your own.
Alas! ev'n your unhallowed breath
May spare the victim fallen low;
But man will ask no truce to death,
No bounds to human wo.





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