Snowstorm – John Clare

I came across a very useful volume yesterday in a charity shop – Where’s that poem? by Helen Morris.  Published in 1967, it was intended as an aid for English teachers, and consists of a list of poems suitable for children between the ages of 8 and 15, arranged by topic.  I can also see it coming in very handy for those of us whose poor old brains are frozen up and can’t quite think of an appropriate poem to post on our blogs.

So, looking up (and what made me think of this I don’t know) Snow we find references to 17 poems, with a further two for Snowflakes and one for Snowmen.  The poets include Hardy (2 poems), Robert Frost (2), Walter de la Mare (4), Andrew Young (3) and Edward Thomas – an excellent selection, I’d say.  In fact it’s a pity that this volume is (I imagine) no longer in use in today’s schools.

Here is another of her suggestions, by someone who Waterstone’s could just about describe as a Local Author!!! – John Clare.  He seems to have belonged to the pro-snow faction, though, characteristically, he found the time to remember the plight of the birds, who have a particularly hard time of it in these conditions.

John Clare (1793 – 1864)


What a night! The wind howls, hisses, and but stops
To howl more loud, while the snow volley keeps
Incessant batter at the window-pane,
Making our comforts feel as sweet again;
And in the morning, when the tempest drops,
At every cottage door mountainous heaps
Of snow lie drifted, that all entrance stops
Until the besom and the shovel gain
The path, and leave a wall on either side.
The shepherd, rambling valleys white and wide,
With new sensations his old memory fills,
When hedges left at night, no more descried,
Are turned to one white sweep of curving hills,
And trees turned bushes half their bodies hide.


The boy that goes to fodder with surprise
Walks o’er the gate he opened yesternight.
The hedges all have vanished from his eyes;
E’en some tree-tops the sheep could reach to bite.
The novel scene engenders new delight,
And, though with cautious steps his sports begin.
He bolder shuffles the huge hills of snow,
Till down he drops and plunges to the chin,
And struggles much and oft escape to win–
Then turns and laughs but dare not further go;
For deep the grass and bushes lie below,
Where little birds that soon at eve went in
With heads tucked in their wings now pine for day
And little feel boys o’er their heads can stray.