Dithering 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 pressed
On hob reclines the corners’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 thumbed pages swarm
With frost and snow and many a storm,
And wisdom gossiped 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 and weather-guide.
Puffing the while his red-tipped 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 – from The Shepard’s Calendar 1827