The Snow

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Uninterruptedly falls the snow,
Like meagre, long wool-strands, scant and slow,
O'er the meagre, long plain disconsolate.
Cold with lovelessness, warm with hate.

Infinite, infinite falls the snow.
Like a moment's time.
Monotonously, in a moment's time;
On the houses it falls and drops, the snow.
Monotonous, whitening them o'er with rime;
It falls on the sheds and their palings below.
And myriad-wise, it falls and lies
  In ridgèd waves
In the churchyard hollows between the graves.

The apron of all inclement weather
Is roughly unfastened, there on high;
The apron of woes and misery
Is shaken by wind-gusts violently
Down on the hamlets that crouch together
Beneath the dull horizon-sky.

The frost creeps down to the very bones,
And want creeps in through the walls and stones;
Yea, snow and want round the souls creep close,
--The heavy snow diaphanous--
Round the stone-cold hearths and the flameless souls
That wither away in their huts and holes.

The hamlets bare
White, white as Death lie yonder, where
The crookèd roadways cross and halt;
Like branching traceries of salt
The trees, all crystallized with frost,
Stretch forth their boughs, entwined and crost.
Along the ways, as on they go
In far procession o'er the snow.

Then here and there, some ancient mill,
Where light, pale mosses aggregate,
Appears on a sudden, standing straight
Like a snare upon its lonely hill.
The roofs and sheds, down there below.
Since November dawned, have been wrestling still,
In contrary blasts, with the hurricane;
While, thick and full, yet falls amain
The infinite snow, with its weary weight,
O'er the meagre, long plain disconsolate.

Thus journeys the snow afar so fleet.
Into every cranny, on every trail;
Always the snow and its winding-sheet,
The mortuary snow so pale.
The snow, unfruitful and so pale.
In wild and vagabond tatters hurled
Through the limitless winter of the world.

© Emile Verhaeren