To Winter by William Blake

To Winter

by William Blake (1757 – 1827)

Snow Storm by Joseph Mallord William Turner

“Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth Making Signals in Shallow Water, and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the ‘Ariel’ left Harwich” by J. M. W. Turner (1842).

O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his scepter o’er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal’st
With storms; till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.

Map of Mount Hecla

Detail of Abraham Ortelius’ map of Iceland (1585) showing the Volcano Hekla in eruption. The Latin text “Hekla perpetuis/damnata estib. et ni:/uib. horrendo boatu/lapides evomit” means “The Hekla, perpetually condemned to storms and snow, vomits stones under terrible noise.”

Public domain artwork from Wikimedia Commons.
Turner painting
Map of Hekla

Listen to The Wordman’s reading of “On Winter.”

William Blake biography

More William Blake poetry on this site