Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Lost in the Snow
By James Thomson (1700–1748)
 
THE SNOWS arise; and, foul and fierce,
All winter drives along the darkened air:
In his own loose-revolving fields the swain
Disastered stands; sees other hills ascend,
Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes,        5
Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain:
Nor finds the river, nor the forest, hid
Beneath the formless wild, but wanders on
From hill to dale, still more and more astray:
Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps,        10
Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of home
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigor forth
In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul!
What black despair, what horror, fills his heart!
When, for the dusky spot which fancy feigned        15
His tufted cottage rising through the snow,
He meets the roughness of the middle waste,
Far from the track, and bless’d abode of man;
While round him night resistless closes fast,
And every tempest, howling o’er his head,        20
Renders the savage wilderness more wild.
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind,
Of covered pits unfathomably deep,
A dire descent! beyond the power of frost;
Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge,        25
Smoothed up with snow; and what is land unknown,
What water, of the still unfrozen spring,
In the loose marsh or solitary lake,
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils.
These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks        30
Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift,
Thinking o’er all the bitterness of death;
Mixed with the tender anguish Nature shoots
Through the wrung bosom of the dying man,
His wife, his children, and his friends unseen.        35
In vain for him th’ officious wife prepares
The fire fair-blazing, and the vestment warm;
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire,
With tears of artless innocence. Alas!        40
Nor wife, nor children, more shall he behold;
Nor friends, nor sacred home. On every nerve
The deadly Winter seizes; shuts up sense,
And, o’er his inmost vitals creeping cold,
Lays him along the snows a stiffened corse,        45
Stretched out, and bleaching in the northern blast.
 
 
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