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A Winter Song

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Came the dread Archer up yonder lawn —
Night is the time for the old to die —
But woe for an arrow that smote the fawn,
When the hind that was sick unscathed went by.

Father lay moaning, Her fault was sore
(Night is the time when the old must die),
Yet, ah to bless her, my child, once more,
For heart is failing: the end is nigh.

Daughter, my daughter, my girl, I cried
(Night is the time for the old to die)
Woe for the wish if till morn ye bide —
Dark was the welkin and wild the sky.

Heavily plunged from the roof the snow —
(Night is the time when the old will die),
She answered, My mother, 'tis well, I go.
Sparkled the north star, the wrack flew high.

First at his head, and last at his feet
(Night is the time when the old should die),
Kneeling I watched till his soul did fleet,
None else that loved him, none else were nigh.

I wept in the night as the desolate weep
(Night is the time for the old to die),
Cometh my daughter? the drifts are deep,
Across the cold hollows how white they lie.

I sought her afar through the spectral trees
(Night is the time when the old must die),
The fells were all muffled, the floods did freeze,
And a wrathful moon hung red in the sky.

By night I found her where pent waves steal
(Night is the time when the old should die),
But she lay stiff by the locked mill-wheel,
And the old stars lived in their homes on high.

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A Winter Song

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  • Nineteenth century British poet, novelist, and chlidren’s author Jean Ingelow was born in Lincolnshire, England to a banker and his Scottish wife. The family moved to Ipswich and then London, where Ingelow remained throughout her life.
    Ingelow began publishing poems in periodicals as a girl, under the pseudonym Orris, and later published some of her work anonymously. Many of her long narrative poems were written in blank verse, with themes of Christian faith and romantic love relayed with a tenderness of emotion. Her work was widely read during her lifetime, and she was known for her charitable “copyright dinners,” in which she hosted her poorer neighbors for dinners paid for with the profits from her books.
    Ingelow’s first collection of poetry, A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and Feelings (1850), earned the praise of Alfred Lord Tennyson, with whom she built a lasting friendship. Over the course of her career Ingelow published numerous...

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