Elinor Morton Wylie

(7 September 1885 – 16 December 1928 / Somerville, New Jersey)

Winter Sleep - Poem by Elinor Morton Wylie

When against earth a wooden heel
Clicks as loud as stone on steel,
When stone turns flour instead of flakes,
And frost bakes clay as fire bakes,
When the hard-bitten fields at last
Crack like iron flawed in the cast,
When the world is wicked and cross and old,
I long to be quit of the cruel cold.

Little birds like bubbles of glass
Fly to other Americas,
Birds as bright as sparkles of wine
Fly in the nite to the Argentine,
Birds of azure and flame-birds go
To the tropical Gulf of Mexico:
They chase the sun, they follow the heat,
It is sweet in their bones, O sweet, sweet, sweet!
It's not with them that I'd love to be,
But under the roots of the balsam tree.

Just as the spiniest chestnut-burr
Is lined within with the finest fur,
So the stoney-walled, snow-roofed house
Of every squirrel and mole and mouse
Is lined with thistledown, sea-gull's feather,
Velvet mullein-leaf, heaped together
With balsam and juniper, dry and curled,
Sweeter than anything else in the world.

O what a warm and darksome nest
Where the wildest things are hidden to rest!
It's there that I'd love to lie and sleep,
Soft, soft, soft, and deep, deep, deep!


Comments about Winter Sleep by Elinor Morton Wylie

  • Susan Williams (2/17/2016 4:36:00 PM)


    Give her outrageous life style I can believe she would occasionally sit back and contemplate the latest married man [not married to her] and wonder if all the hullabaloo was worth it- -that makes her wish for southern climes far from the madding crowd.... but then the men had money and she didn't have to work and they would pay for the publication of her poetry. She wields a graceful pen but there doesn't seem to be any real sustenance in her lines. (Report) Reply

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  • (3/15/2010 2:40:00 AM)


    One of the most beautiful and thoughful poems. Not sure why the low rating but rated this a 10. Thanks for posting. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: snow, together, house, tree, sleep, fire, sea, world, sun, winter, love



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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