EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

December 24, 2012

Editorial: Whittier captures a New England winter

The great American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, was born in Haverhill in 1807. Having lived in Amesbury and Danvers, among other places, his poetry captures the essence of life in the Merrimack Valley, on the North Shore and in Southern New Hampshire.

The first lines of one of his best-loved works, “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” captures perfectly, we think, the weather that we associate with a white Christmas:

The sun that brief December day

Rose cheerless over hills of gray,

And, darkly circled, gave at noon

A sadder light than waning moon.

Slow tracing down the thickening sky

Its mute and ominous prophecy,

A portent seeming less than threat,

It sank from sight before it set.

A chill no coat, however stout,

Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,

A hard, dull bitterness of cold,

That checked, mid-vein, the circling race

Of life-blood in the sharpened face,

The coming of the snow-storm told.

The wind blew east; we heard the roar

Of Ocean on his wintry shore,

And felt the strong pulse throbbing there

Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

The poem goes on at length about the pleasures to be found spending time with friends and family around a crackling fire while the storm rages outside. We wish the same for you and yours this holiday.

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