Holy Holle, Mother Winter,
Shakes her eider till it flutters,
Till the ticking frees its feathers,
Drifting, shifting into snowflakes,
Soft as swansdown, slowly falling,
Blanketing the world in whiteness.
Robed in furs of spotless whiteness,
Rapt, the Snow Queen watches winter.
Glacial ice, her mirror, falling,
Shatters into shards: each flutters
Through the air; her splintered snowflakes
Fly, all fletched with freezing feathers.
Fairies paint the panes with feathers,
Frost the frames with hoary whiteness,
Limn the pines and posts with snowflakes,
Weave the world the gown of Winter,
Fragile lace, its frills and flutters
Fixed, all frozen water falling.
Ghosts of past and present falling
In with future float like feathers
Round the miser; each one flutters
Trailing winding-sheets whose whiteness
Rivals that of Old Man Winter,
Swirling, thick as churchyard snowflakes.
Standing stark amidst the snowflakes,
Faint, the Little Matchgirl, falling,
Strikes a match to ward off winter,
Sees it blaze like phoenix feathers,
Green and gold and Hope’s bright whiteness—
Like a dying moth, it flutters.
Mary rides; her heart still flutters,
Though she does not know of snowflakes
Save a star whose wondrous whiteness
Blazes forth to stop man’s falling,
Heralds Hope like angel feathers
Left within her lap last winter.
Hope still flutters, icons falling,
Six-vaned snowflakes, Heaven’s feathers,
Stars of whiteness lighting winter.
“Advent Windows” previously appeared in First Things.