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Poetry By Heart: ” Now Winter Nights Enlarge” by Thomas Campion

November 17, 2014

When the first snow fell last week, I tried to find a suitable poem that captures the peace and wonder of watching snow twirl past the window. Sadly, I didn’t manage to find such a poem; most of the wintry ones were filled with desolation (do let me know if you know of any good snow poetry). In my search I came across this seventeenth century poem that I felt would be lovely to recite while walking in my neighbourhood at dusk, and seeing lamps glowing out of the houses. To accompany it, here is a picture of my current window view: the snow is falling in earnest today!


“Now Winter Nights Enlarge” by Thomas Campion

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze,
And cups o’erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2014 10:58 am

    That is great, and so perfect for this time of year. I was bitterly disappointed that the 100% chance of at least one inch of snow that we were supposed to receive Saturday turned out to be no snow whatsoever. I know 99% of the people in the area were fine with that, but as a winter-loving person I was very sad.

  2. November 17, 2014 11:09 am

    My favorite snow poem, indeed, one of my favorite poems, is Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I especially like Frost’s comment that his “little horse must find it queer to stop without a farmhouse near.” My dogs have so often sighed with resignation when, wonderstruck, I bring their dash to the woods to a crashing halt.

  3. November 17, 2014 11:16 am

    My favorite snow poem is “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens, with the line about “a mind of winter,” since I don’t like snow and pretty much hate winter after all these years of living in the north with a bad knee.

    But his poem 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird comes close to being my favorite, for its description of what it’s like when snow falls: “it was evening all afternoon. It was snowing and it was going to snow.”

  4. November 17, 2014 11:32 am

    Makes me wish I lived where it snowed.

  5. November 17, 2014 12:32 pm

    Beautiful poem, Eva! Thanks for sharing. Love your ‘Poetry By Heart’ series :)

  6. November 17, 2014 2:51 pm

    Lovely thoughts for winter.

  7. Amanda permalink
    November 18, 2014 7:55 pm

    Snow, glorious snow! I love snow!

  8. November 21, 2014 7:54 am

    Beautiful poem! Sadly, I can’t think of many snow-related poems. One of my favorite moments last year was going to Finnish Lapland where a community of Sami people invited us (students) and told us some of their tales. There was one specific song about nature (might have included the snow season) but sadly, it’s hard to find Sami literature. It’s worth a shot though :).

    Still waiting for the snow and miss it dearly!

  9. November 22, 2014 4:29 pm

    This is lovely, thank you for sharing. I don’t miss the snow in New York terribly, but I do love a few snow days every winter and I’m looking forward to the first one.

  10. November 22, 2014 10:59 pm

    Wonderful! Poem and picture. There is an old one called Snowbound by Whittier you might like:

  11. November 22, 2014 11:55 pm

    Enjoyed the poem, thanks so much for sharing it! I’ll try to think of a good poem of winter I enjoy.

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