Description of Winter at Copenhagen

Ambrose Philips

FROM frozen climes, and endless tracts of snow,

From streams which northern winds forbid to flow,

What present shall the Muse to Dorset bring,

Or how so near the pole attempt to sing?

The hoary winter here conceals from sight

All pleasing objects which to verse invite:

The hills and dales, and the delightful woods,

The flowery plains, and silver-streaming floods,

By snow disguised, in bright confusion lie,

And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.


No gentle breathing breeze prepares the spring,

No birds within the desert region sing;

The ships unmoved the boisterous wind defy,

While rattling chariots o’er the ocean fly;

The vast leviathan wants room to play,

And spout his waters in the face of day;

The starving wolves along the main sea prowl,

And to the moon in icy valleys howl.

O’er many a shining league the level main

Here spreads itself into the glassy plain;

There solid billows of enormous size,

Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.


And yet but lately have I seen, even here,

The winter in a lovely dress appear.

Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasured snow,

Or winds began through hazy skies to blow;

At evening a keen eastern breeze arose,

And the descended rain unsullied froze.

Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew,

The ruddy morn disclosed at once to view

The face of Nature in a rich disguise,

And brightened every object to my eyes:

For every shrub, and every blade of grass,

And every pointed thorn, seemed wrought in glass;

In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,

While through the ice the crimson berries glow;

The thick-sprung reeds, which watery marshes yield,

Seemed polished lances in a hostile field;

The stag, in limpid currents with surprise,

Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise;

The spreading oak, the beech, the towering pine,

Glazed over, in the freezing ether 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 shower the prospect ends.

Or if a southern gale the region warm,

And by degrees unbind the wintry charm,

The traveller a miry country sees,

And journeys sad beneath the drooping trees.

Like some deluded peasant, Merlin leads

Through fragrant showers and through delicious meads;

While here enchanted gardens to him rise,

And airy fabrics there attract his eyes;

His wandering feet the magic paths pursue,

And, while he thinks the fair illusion true,

The trackless scenes disperse in fluid air,

And woods and wilds and thorny ways appear;

A tedious road the weary wretch returns,

And as he goes the transient vision mourns.

Main Location:

Copenhagen, Denmark