Address to A Child During A Boisterous Winter Evening

What way does the wind come? What way does he go?
He rides over the water, and over the snow,
Through wood, and through vale; and o’er rocky height,
Which the goat cannot climb, takes his sounding flight;
He tosses about in every bare tree,
As, if you look up, you plainly may see;
But how he will come, and whither he goes,
There’s never a scholar in England knows.

He will suddenly stop in a cunning nook,
And ring a sharp ’larum; but, if you should look,
There’s nothing to see but a cushion of snow,
Round as a pillow, and whiter than milk,
And softer than if it were covered with silk.
Sometimes he’ll hide in the cave of a rock,
Then whistle as shrill as the buzzard cock;
— Yet seek him, and what shall you find in the place?
Nothing but silence and empty space;
Save, in a corner, a heap of dry leaves,
That he’s left, for a bed, to beggars or thieves!

As soon as ’tis daylight tomorrow, with me
You shall go to the orchard, and then you will see
That he has been there, and made a great rout,
And cracked the branches, and strewn them about;
Heaven grant that he spare but that one upright twig
That looked up at the sky so proud and big
All last summer, as well you know,
Studded with apples, a beautiful show!

Hark! over the roof he makes a pause,
And growls as if he would fix his claws
Right in the slates, and with a huge rattle
Drive them down, like men in a battle:
– But let him range round; he does us no harm,
We build up the fire, we’re snug and warm;
Untouched by his breath see the candle shines bright,
And burns with a clear and steady light.

Books have we to read, but that half-stifled knell,
Alas! ’tis the sound of the eight o’clock bell.
— Come, now we’ll to bed! and when we are there
He may work his own will, and what shall we care?
He may knock at the door — we’ll not let him in;
May drive at the windows — we’ll laugh at his din;
Let him seek his own home wherever it be;
Here’s a cozie warm house for Edward and me.

More Poems by Dorothy Wordsworth