Clouds descending o’er the hills
A blanket, cold and white
The bite of winter gives me chills
I must be home tonight
The woods have shed their autumn reds,
And every tree is bare;
For summer’s cloak has long since fled
And ice has made its lair
The wind has grown from just a breeze
And makes the branches shiver
What vagabond could nature please
In its wonderful, wintry figure?
The sable horse I ride upon
Turns his head in nervous awe
His muzzle tight and shoulders drawn,
He sees some things that I do not
But as I watch the woods with care
The light of day takes leave from me;
Though snow be fresh and wind be fair
With cold of night I don’t agree
The blotted sky, now frozen black
Takes a toll upon my sight
Of all the earthly things I lack,
My will to see has taken flight!
Stumbling through the forest dark,
My horse and I are all but lost
The fairies must have made their mark,
For now the world is solid frost
What fool was I to tread this path!
With heat’s decline and daylight gone
I’m at the forest’s icy wrath
And hope to make it out by dawn
But as I ride in anguished thought,
A northern wind comes rushing in
Ten feet short it swiftly stops
And with it brings a ghastly din
The flakes once drifting through the air
Take a shape not of this world
Her skin is white, as is her hair
Atop her head, a crown of pearls
“Fool,” said she, “No mortal man
Can walk these woods and leave alive.
A touch of Lady Winter’s hand;
From solid ice thou shalt derive.”
Leaping promptly to the ground,
I bow my head in humble fear.
“Only a mortal man homebound
Would walk your woods this time of year.
But if your grace would set me free,
No man shall take this path again
Everyone will leave you be
And what was now will just be then.”
Her gaze is frostbite on my cheek
And makes my heart be stilled
Says she: “To let you wander, worn and weak
Would go against my will.
For what seems like eternity,
I’ve stayed in shadows deep
The chains of immortality
Have kept me from my sleep
Why should a traveler so bold
Be allowed to pass?
To venture forth into my cold
And never feel my wrath?”
Her fury, flurry, grew in strength
With every word she spoke
Until her mighty force, at length,
Became a world of smoke
I cried, “My lady! What have I done
To deserve a fate as this?
Though the bounds of oblivion has done thee wrong
So much your frozen heart hath missed!
Have not you seen the light of day?
Or felt midsummer’s warmth?
Would you have heard the donkey’s bray
Were you not all but storm?
But lo! the things I leave behind
Are for others to cherish;
Though Lady Winter leaves me blind,
With her I gladly perish.”
The world came to a sudden stop
As did my pending death;
The Lady’s eyes were grey and shot
Her voice was just a breath
Said she: “No mortal man has ever
Walked these woods and left alive
But more than that, no man has severed
My frozen heart so locked with ice.”
Soon the blizzard melted away
And returned to the folds of her cloak
“From the path never stray,” I heard her say,
The last she ever spoke.
She then took leave, a crystal flake
Upon a gentle breeze
The day had just begun to break;
It filled the woods with ease
I found my horse just down the walk
And mounted him with care
He led me from the forest dark
And into open air
The snow had melted from the hills,
A blanket, dew-dropped May
The sight of rooftops makes me thrilled,
I must be home today.
(From my uber talented middle child)