Winter in Dunbarton

Robert Lowell

From the Kenyon Review, Winter 1946, Vol. VIII, No. 1

Time smiling on this sundial of a world
Corrupted the snow-monster and the worm,
Ransacker of shard statues and the peers
Of Europe; but our cat is cold, is curled
For rigor mortis: she no longer smears
Her catnip mouse from Christmas; the germ,
Mindless and ice, a world against our world,
Hurtles her round of brains into her ears;

This winter only snowmen turn to stone:
And, sick of the long hurly-burly, rise
Like butterflies into Jehovah’s eyes
And shift until their crystals must atone

To water; but the days are short and rot
The holly on our Father’s mound. All day
The wastes of snow about our house stare in
Through idle windows at the brainless cat;
The coke-barrel in the corner whimpers. May
The snow recede and red clay furrows set
In the grim grin of their erosion, in
The fusion of uprooted fallow, fat

With muck and winter dropsy, where the tall
Snow-monster wipes the coke-fumes from his eyes
And scatters his corruption and it lies
Gaping until the fungus-eyeballs fall

Into this eldest of the seasons. Cold
Cracks the bronze toes and fingers of the Christ
Our Father fetched from Florence, and the dead
Narrow to nothing in the thankless ground
Grandfather wrenched from Charlie Stark and sold
To the selectmen of Dunbarton. Head
And shoulders narrow: Father’s stone is crowned
With snowflakes and the bronze-age shards of Christ.

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