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Poem by Elinor Wylie


Winter Sleep


When against earth a wooden heel 
Clicks as loud as stone on steel, 
When stone turns flour instead of flakes, 
And frost bakes clay as fire bakes, 
When the hard-bitten fields at last 
Crack like iron flawed in the cast, 
When the world is wicked and cross and old, 
I long to be quit of the cruel cold.

Little birds like bubbles of glass 
Fly to other Americas, 
Birds as bright as sparkles of wine 
Fly in the nite to the Argentine, 
Birds of azure and flame-birds go 
To the tropical Gulf of Mexico: 
They chase the sun, they follow the heat, 
It is sweet in their bones, O sweet, sweet, sweet! 
Its not with them that Id love to be, 
But under the roots of the balsam tree.

Just as the spiniest chestnut-burr 
Is lined within with the finest fur, 
So the stoney-walled, snow-roofed house 
Of every squirrel and mole and mouse 
Is lined with thistledown, sea-gulls feather, 
Velvet mullein-leaf, heaped together 
With balsam and juniper, dry and curled, 
Sweeter than anything else in the world.

O what a warm and darksome nest 
Where the wildest things are hidden to rest! 
Its there that Id love to lie and sleep, 
Soft, soft, soft, and deep, deep, deep!



Elinor Wylie


Elinor Wylie's other poems:
  1. Madmans Song
  2. Primavera in the North
  3. Curious Circumstance
  4. The Lost Path
  5. Venetian Interior


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Edith Thomas Winter Sleep ("I KNOW it must be winter (though I sleep)")

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