Fugitive Verses
Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers

"Beautiful Snow" by Unknown

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.

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Beautiful Snow

  • 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;
  • Dancing,
  • Flirting,
  • 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,
  • Chasing,
  • Laughing,
  • 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,
  • Ringing,
  • Swinging,
  • 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,
  • Pleading,
  • Cursing,
  • 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,
  • Father,
  • Mother,
  • 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!
  • Fainting,
  • Freezing,
  • 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!