Winter

Matthias Claudius (1740–1815)

A Song to Be Sung behind the Stove -from Asmus omnia sua secum portans, oder Sämtliche Werke des Wandsbecker Boten


Poem

OLD Winter is the man for me—
Stout-hearted, sound, and steady;
Steel nerves and bones of brass hath he:
Come snow, come blow, he ’s ready!

 
If ever man was well, ’t is he;
He keeps no fire in his chamber,
And yet from cold and cough is free
In bitterest December.

 
He dresses him out-doors at morn,
Nor needs he first to warm him;
Toothache and rheumatis’ he ’ll scorn,
And colic don’t alarm him.

 
In summer when the woodland rings,
He asks “What mean these noises?”
Warm sounds he hates and all warm things
Most heartily despises.

 
But when the fox’s bark is loud;
When the bright hearth is snapping;
When children round the chimney crowd,
All shivering and clapping;—
       
 
When stone and bone with frost do break,
And pond and lake are cracking,—
Then you may see his old sides shake,
Such glee his frame is racking.

 
Near the North Pole, upon the strand,
He has an icy tower;
Likewise in lovely Switzerland
He keeps a summer bower.

 
So up and down—now here—now there—
His regiments manœuvre;
When he goes by, we stand and stare,
And cannot choose but shiver.

2014-19