Robert Burns Knew Winter

As we get ready for the Winter Warlock to blow in (they say) 12″-24″ of snow to Spokane in the coming days, I have retreated to my conservatory. I can now sit in relative warmth and look out at the barn and horses, leafless trees, icey walk and…sun. Yes, sun. In fact, it’s very deceiving. You might think it’s actually warm out there and doubt the weatherman, but I know better. Before I sat down here to read and write, I had to walk out in it–bundled up, of course, to feed the horses and goats. When poets say the air bites, I know what they mean. Just that little bit of wind you stir by walking feels like thin ice whips across exposed skin. Ouch! To the Conservatory! God bless electricity and windows!

I don’t feature many male poets on my blog, but I’ve already established that I’m in love with Robert Burns so I turned to his lyrics to describe this late January cold. (His birthday is coming up in 9 days–January 25th–a holiday in Scotland.)

Winter: A Dirge by Robert Burns

The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want—O do Thou grant
This one request of mine!—
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.

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7 responses to “Robert Burns Knew Winter

  1. Wait, 12-24 inches of snow? Shouldn’t you be in the grocery store? Our shelves here would be stripped of all food with that prediction.

    Winter is a lyrical time of year though, isn’t it.

  2. Hi. I read here where you stated Louise Gluck is the closest poet today to Emily Dickinson. I should respectfully disagree. Still, I love your site. Keep up the work.

  3. emilydickinsonsgarden

    Poet, I’ve lately come to think Mary Oliver is the closest to Emily, but I’m more interested in who you think it would be. Thanks for stopping by the site and commenting. I love to be challenged.

    • Hi. Mary Oliver is a nice poet. I remember, I believe, her poem about a fox. It was nice because it wasn’t exaggerated. Just simple and interesting. I teach poetry and have come across a poet I may be able to share with you, but need to ask if it’s ok to do so. I may be able to share a poem or two with you. I’ll let you know later today!

  4. Hello again. I have permission to send a poem to you. I think though that I should send it via email. Would this be ok?

  5. emilydickinsonsgarden

    Yes, I’ll email it to you.

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