Winter Song


Dear Boy, throw that Icicle down,
And sweep this deep Snow from the door:
Old Winter comes on with a frown;
A terrible frown for the poor.
In a Season so rude and forlorn,5
How can age, how can infancy bear
The silent neglect and the scorn
Of those who have plenty to spare?
Fresh broach’d is my Cask of old Ale,
Well-tim’d now the frost is set in;10
Here’s Job come to tell us a tale,
We’ll make him at home to a pin. [1] 
While my Wife and I bask o’er the fire,
The roll of the Seasons will prove,
That Time may diminish desire,15
But cannot extinguish true love.
O the pleasures of neighbourly chat,
If you can but keep scandal away,
To learn what the world has been at,
And what the great Orators say;20
Though the Wind through the crevices sing,
And Hail down the chimney rebound;
I’m happier than many a king
While the Bellows blow Bass to the sound.
Abundance was never my lot:25
But out of the trifle that’s given,
That no curse may alight on my Cot,
I’ll distribute the bounty of Heav’n;
The fool and the slave gather wealth:
But if I add nought to my store,30
Yet while I keep conscience in health,
I’ve a Mine that will never grow poor. [2] 


[1] [‘In or to a merry pin; almost drunk: an allusion to a sort of tankard, formerly used in the north, having silver pegs or pins set at equal distances from the top to the bottom: by the rules of good fellowship, every person drinking out of one of these tankards was to swallow the quantity contained between two pins; if he drank more or less, he was to continue drinking till he ended at a pin: by this means persons unaccustomed to measure their draughts were obliged to drink the whole tankard. Hence when a person was a little elevated with liquor, he was said to have drunk to a merry pin.’ Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, (1811). Thanks to Hugh Underhill for this reference. See also OED, ‘pin,’ sb. 1, 15.] BACK

[2] [1st edn, 1st state adds note:] This song pleases by natural and virtuous sentiment, and all the free animation of a good heart: though in diction it might have been a little more select, without injuring simplicity. C. L. Oct. 8th, 1801.] omitted in 1st edn, 2nd state and later edns BACK