Poems about Winter

Poems about Winter

While writing my dissertation, (which is on ecocriticism and medieval poetry), I’ve ended up reading about what seasons symbolically represent in poetry. It can be quite interesting to see the ways seasons and the periods of transition between them, are presented by different poets. It made me think of Christina Rossetti’s playful poem about winter. This poem used to infuriate me, but it really stuck in my mind, and now I actually really like it!

I also thought I’d link a painting by her brother, Dante Rossetti. I don’t know as much about him, but this painting was also inspired by winter. After a bit of research, I found out it depicts Prosperpine, (the Roman version of Persephone), trapped in the winter of Pluto’s underworld. I thought it gave a different view of winter, suggesting that it traps us rather than tricks us. Plus I just really like the pre-Raphaelite aesthetic at the moment!

Winter: My Secret

Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there’s none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust
March with its peck of dust,
Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost may wither thro’ the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there’s not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess. [1]

Proserpine

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)pnd09

Afar away the light that brings cold cheer
Unto this wall, – one instant and no more
Admitted at my distant palace-door
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here.
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
That chills me: and afar how far away,
The nights that shall become the days that were.

Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign:
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine,
O, Whose sounds mine inner sense in fain to bring,
Continually together murmuring) —
‘Woe me for thee, unhappy Proserpine’. [2]

Let me know if there’s any other poems about winter or seasons in general that you like! I might do a few more posts on this theme from different eras of poetry!

A xxx

[1] Source used: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/winter-my-secret, [Accessed April 2016].

[2] Source used: http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/dgr/drawings/5.html, [Accessed April 2016].