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

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