Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


And yet but lately have I seen, ev'n here,
The winter in a lovely dress appear.
'Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasur'd snow,
Or winds begun through hazy skies to blow,
At ev'ning a keen eastern breeze arose,
And the descending rain unsully'd froze.

Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew,
The ruddy morn disclos'd at once to view
The face of nature in a rich disguise,
And brighten'd ev'ry object to my eyes:
For ev'ry shrub, and ev'ry blade of grass,
And ev'ry pointed thorn, seem'd wrought in glass;
In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,
While through the ice the crimson berries glow.

The thick-sprung reeds, which wat'ry marshes yield,
Seem'd polish'd lances in a hostile field.
The stag in limpid currents, with surprise,
Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise;
The spreading oak, the beech, and tow'ring pine,
Glaz'd over, in the freezing aether shine.

The frighted birds the rattling branches shun,
Which wave and glitter in the distant sun.
When if a sudden gust of wind arise,
The brittle forest into atoms flies,
The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends,
And in a spangled show'r the prospect ends

These lines were written in 1709 by an English politician and poet called Ambrose Philips while he was secretary to the British Envoy to Denmark. The lines seem rather appropriate since we are having a fair amount of ice and snow so far this winter. It's a good many years since we last had snow on the ground at Christmas and there is more to come this afternoon and overnight in the area of England where I live.

I am a little bit in limbo at the moment as my eldest son together with my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters are leaving for South Africa on January 6th. They will be living out there for the time being though fortunately they will be coming back to the UK at least once a year for 5 or 6 weeks and I shall certainly be taking the opportunity to go out to South Africa again. It's a wonderful country to visit and they are handily placed about 20 minutes from one of the gates into Kruger National Park as well as a short drive from the Drakensburg Mountains. Lots of photo opportunities there! Clicking on the word Kruger will take you to a page with some information about one of my favourite places in the world.


nita x said...

lovely pictures rowan, and id never heard that poem before, lovely and so true to the weather we've had :o)

Tea with Willow said...

Thanks for sharing that lovely poem - I've really enjoyed reading it.

South Africa sounds wonderful! It always helps to have something to look forward to, as we enter a new year, doesn't it?!

Willow xx

Bovey Belle said...

What a beautiful poem. I hope your son and his family are soon settled in out in South Africa, and what a wonderful holiday opportunity for you (and some SUNSHINE!)

T returns home tomorrow, so I am praying that the trains are still running your end!

Shirl said...

Beautiful piccies; sadly all our snow had melted by Christmas day, but it was lovely while it lasted.

Such a lovely poem.

Shirl x

Wanda said...

I truly enjoyed this lovely poem, expresses well the feeling of snow covered fields and ice encased branches...I know well the gust of wind that showers one with pieces of ice. I will have to look for more of his poetry.

I understand the limbo you are in, but what a wonderful place you will have to visit!

Roy said...

Hi Rowan, well that's your foreign holiday sorted for a while now then.

Morning's Minion said...

The photos are beautifully suited to the poem. I'm a bit "over" cold and snow here, but many more weeks to go. I can't think of a holiday destination that appeals, so I think we must just hunker down into the hibernation mode of winter.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Brrr! Your pictures are the perfect illustration to that poem Rowan, one i've never read before.

I hope 2010 is a good year for you and your family. I can imagine that some South African sunshine would be most enjoyable right now!

Happy New Year!

Dartford Warbler said...

Beautiful photographs that illustrate the poem so well.

Janet said...

Beautiful photos!

Having your son and his family move away is sad but it seems you've found a positive side to it....trips to South Africa. That's exciting!!

Gracie said...

Such beautidul photos Rowan! My best whishes for a sparkling 2010!
Gracie at

Rosie said...

I love the photo of the fir cones. What a lovely poem. It is hard to part with family at this time of year so it is good that you have visits and holidays to look forward to. My best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year:)

FireLight said...

Thank for the beautiful wintry scenes! I look forward to the photos you will take in South Africa!

FireLight said...

And a Happy New year to you!

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

That poem warmed my winter heart :) I loved your pictures too. A safe journey wished for your son and DIL and they're little ducklings and a wonderfully joyous, healthy and fulfilling 2010 to you and your family. Thank you for all of your beautiful posts and pictures you shared in 2009.

Jenny said...

Happy New Year to you, Rowan! I am coming out of "blog hibernation" and wanted you to know how much I enjoy your posts. I am determined to visit the British Isles someday, but until then I treasure your blog. And now I can go to South Africa too, somewhere I never even considered! I'd love to know what species the birds are if you have the time. Enjoy your time with your family!

Diane said...

Lovely poem Rowan and great photos - I love the contrast of the red berries on an otherwise colourless shot. It will be hard for you all being so far away from each other, but the opportunities for you all are endless and I know that you will focus on the positives. Batten down the hatches for more snow! xxxx

Julie said...

To make you feel better: I only get to see my daughter once a year, for about a week, or even less. She left Monday and of course I have been sad all week. I don't really consider December to be a part of winter - it is so full of colored lights and music, and usually not too cold. Then comes January and normality. Thanks for the poem. I must look for other ways now to appreciate winter. The sun was out yesterday and today - that helped a lot.

Happy New Year to you!

Cat said...

Brrrr, happy new year!

gemma said...

Happy New Year!

thesnailgarden said...

Thank you Rowan for such beautiful photos and poetry. Wishing you a very happy new year, Pj x