Thursday, December 26, 2013


Old Winter

Robert Southey (1774-1843), "Sonnet XX" (dated 1799), The Minor Poems of Robert Southey, Vol. I (London: Longman, 1815), p. 112:
A wrinkled, crabbed man they picture thee,
    Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey
As the long moss upon the apple-tree;
Blue-lipt, an ice-drop at thy sharp blue nose;
    Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way,
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.
They should have drawn thee by the high-heapt hearth,
    Old Winter! seated in thy great arm'd chair,
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth,
    Or circled by them as thy lips declare
Some merry jest or tale of murder dire,
    Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the mouldering fire,
    Or taste the old October brown and bright.
In the last line, October is "A kind of strong ale traditionally brewed in October" (Oxford English Dictionary, sense 2).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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