Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Lines Written after a Snow-storm" by Clement C. Moore, reprinted in 1824 from the Troy Sentinel

Clement C. Moore's classic poem A Visit from St. Nicholas aka The Night Before Christmas was first published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel, on December 23, 1823. Everyone knows that, but here's a melvilliana exclusive to deck your holiday halls with. Only a few months later (definitely before March 2, 1824) another unsigned poem by Clement C. Moore also appeared in the Troy Sentinel. Of course, this one never spread as rapidly or widely as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" did. Nevertheless, it was noticed and reprinted in at least one other newspaper. I have not yet located the original Troy Sentinel printing [Update: found! in the Troy Sentinel, February 20, 1824] but here is the version reprinted "FROM THE TROY SENTINEL" in the Providence, Rhode-Island American on Tuesday, March 2, 1824. Found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.
[Providence] Rhode-Island American - March 2, 1824
Like "A Visit from St. Nicholas," this poem was reprinted with minor revisions and corrections in Moore's 1844 volume of Poems, under the title Lines Written after a Snow-Storm. The table of contents there gives the title as "Lines Written after a Fall of Snow."

In 1913 Arthur Inkersley associated these very "Lines" with the more famous holiday poem, as the  two works Moore then was best remembered for:
... Mrs. MacNutt was Miss Margaret Ogden, a granddaughter of Clement C. Moore, the scholar, poet and musician, widely known as the author of “ 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and “Lines Written After a Snowstorm.” --The Overland Monthly
It makes a neat companion piece with "The Night Before Christmas." As pointed out in our last, Moore addresses his meditative "Lines Written after a Snow Storm" to his kids. And as Stephen Nissenbaum aptly remarks, the poem
 could almost be titled "The Morning after Christmas."  --There Arose Such a Clatter



COME children dear, and look around;
   Behold how soft and light
The silent snow has clad the ground
   In robes of purest white.

The trees seem deck'd by fairy hand,
   Nor need their native green;
And every breeze appears to stand,
   All hush'd, to view the scene.

You wonder how the snows were made
   That dance upon the air,
As if from purer worlds they stray'd,
   So lightly and so fair.

Perhaps they are the summer flowers
   In northern stars that bloom,
Wafted away from icy bowers
   To cheer our winter's gloom.

Perhaps they're feathers of a race
   Of birds that live away,
In some cold dreary wintry place,
   Far from the sun's warm ray.

And clouds, perhaps, are downy beds
   On which the winds repose;
Who, when they rouse their slumb'ring heads,
   Shake down the feath'ry snows.

But see, my darlings, while we stay
   And gaze with fond delight,
The fairy scene soon fades away,
   And mocks our raptur'd sight.

And let this fleeting vision teach
   A truth you soon must know —
That all the joys we here can reach
   Are transient as the snow.
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