Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
Snow-Bound, ‘a Winter Idyll,’ by John Greenleaf Whittier, was published in 1866. It is described by him as “a picture of an old-fashioned farmer’s fireside in winter.” The metre resembles that of Scott’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’; iambic tetrameter couplets predominate, but occasionally, alternating or interlacing rhymes are introduced to vary the movement. In depicting a New-England family gathering on a snowy winter evening Whittier is describing his own home circle as it was in his boyhood at East Haverhill, Massachusetts, After an account of the farm-house shut off from the world by a roaring blizzard—an account made particularly vivid by a wealth of homely and expressive detail—Whittier shows the group about the blazing oak fire. The father tells of his wanderings in Canadian forests and lumber camps and his labors on the marshes and fishing-grounds of the New England coast. The mother describes Indian raids and massacres during the French wars in New Hampshire or reads from old Quaker books of martyrology and religious experience. The uncle delights the children with his rich lore of hunting and fishing, and the aunt describes the huskings and apple-bees of her girlhood. The village schoolmaster speaks of “classic Dartmouth’s college halls,” plays the fiddle, and tells of his experiences at parties in country settlements. There is present a guest, Harriet Livermore, a religious enthusiast, a traveler, and a woman of the world. Her complex and unstable temperament and her charm of personality are brilliantly portrayed by the poet. Fraternal tributes are also paid to Whittier’s brother and two sisters. The storm keeps the party snow-bound for a week, during which the various occupations and amusements of the farm are described with the poet’s usual fidelity. ‘Snow-Bound’ is a characteristic product of rural New England—its scenery, types of character, mode of life, and ideals are thoroughly representative of the soil. The absolute truth and sincerity of the poem, its pictorial power, and its family loyalty and affection are its outstanding merits.  1

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