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The First Snow

The field pools gathered into frosted lace;
   An icy glitter lined the iron ruts,
   And bound the circle of the musk-rat huts;
A junco flashed about a sunny space
Where rose stems made a golden amber grace;
   Between the dusky alder's woven ranks,
   A stream thought yet about his summer banks,
And made an August music in the place.

Along the horizon's faded shrunken lines,
   Veiling the gloomy borders of the night,
   Hung the great snow clouds washed with pallid gold;
And stealing from his covert in the pines,
   The wind, encouraged to a stinging flight,
   Dropped in the hollow conquered by the cold.

Then a light cloud rose up for hardihood,
   Trailing a veil of snow that whirled and broke,
   Blown softly like a shround of steam or smoke,
Sallied across a knoll where maples stood,
Charged over broken country for a rood.
   Then seeing the night, withdrew his force and fled,
   Leaving the ground with snow-flakes thinly spread,
And traces fo the skirmish in the wood.

The stars sprang out and flashed serenely near,
   The solid frost came down with might and main,
   It set the rivers under bolt and bar;
Bang! went the starting eaves beneath the strain,
   And e'er Orion saw the morning-star
The winter was the master of the year