Source of witness transcribed: The Potter Journal (Coudersport, Pennsylvania)
Date of witness transcribed: 13 January 1859
Notes about this poem: "Beautiful Snow" was printed in at least 276 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 507470 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.
Its authorship was not only unknown, but the subject of frequent speculation and debate in period newspapers. In many cases the prose defending a particular story of "Beautiful Snow"—its most common but not only title—were longer than the poem itself.
- Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow,
- Filling the sky and the earth below;
- Over the house-tops, over the street,
- Over the heads of the people you meet;
- Skimming along.
- Beautiful snow! it can do nothing wrong;
- Flying to kiss a fair lady’s cheek:
- Clinging to lips in a frolicsome freak,
- Beautiful snow, from the heavens above,
Pure as an angel and fickle as love!
- Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow!
- How the flakes gather and laugh as they go!
- Whirling about in its maddening fun,
- It plays in its glee with every one,
- Hurrying by.
- It lights up the face and it sparkles the eye;
- And even the dogs with a bark and a bound,
- Snap at the crystals that eddy around.
- The town is alive and its heart in a glow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow.
- How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
- Hailing each other with humor and song;
- How the gay sledges like meteors flash by—
- Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye,
- Dashing they go.
- Over the crest of the beautiful snow,
- Snow so pure when it falls from the sky,
- To be trampled in mud by the crowd rushing by;
- To be trampled and tracked by the thousands of feet
Till it blends with the filth in the horrible street.
- Once I was pure as the snow—but I fell;
- Fell, like the snow-flakes, from heaven—to hell!
- Fell, to be trampled as the filth of the street;
- Fell, to be scoffed, to be spit on and beat,
- Dreading to die
- Selling my soul to whoever would buy,
- Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
- Hating the living and fearing the dead.
- Merciful God! have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like this beautiful snow!
- Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
- With an eye like its crystals, a heart like its glow;
- Once I was loved for my innocent grace—
- Flattered and sought for the charms of my face,
- Sisters all,
- God and myself, I have lost by my fall.
- The veriest wretch that goes shivering by
- Will take a wide sweep, lest I wander too nigh,
- For of all that is on or about me, I know,
There is nothing that’s pure but the beautiful snow.
- How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
- Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
- How strange it would be, when the night comes again,
- If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain!
- Dying alone!
- Too wicked for prayer, too weak for my moan
- To be heard in the crash of this crazy town.
- Gone mad in their joy at the snow coming down,
- To lie and to die in my terrible wo,
- With a bed and a shroud of beautiful snow!