The snow had begun in the gloaming,
     And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
     With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
     Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
     Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
     Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
     And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
     The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
     Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
     Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
     As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
     Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?"
And I told of the good All-father
     Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
     And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
     When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
     That fell from that cloud-like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
     The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
     "The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
     Alone can make it fall!"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
     And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
     Folded close under deepening snow.

--James Russell Lowell

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